Candidate Vetting Interview- Hunter Murphy, NC Court of Appeals Judge

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Name, Candidate Position: Hunter Murphy,  Superior Court Judge
Interview Date: 10-12-16
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: on Phone 
Name: Hunter Murphy
Phone:   828-550-2752
Email: hunter@huntermurphyforjudge.com
Address: 370 N. Main Street, Suite 201, Waynesville, NC, 28786
Educational Background:
Graduate of Tuscola High School in Waynesville.
Hold an undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill with a double major in economics and religious studies.
Graduated with honors from the University of the Pacific (in Sacremento) Law School.
Experience:
I have a general practice here in the mountains west of Asheville handling things like civil and criminal cases, real estate transactions, and wills and estate planning. In addition to state court and federal court, I practice in Cherokee tribal court.
Demonstrations of Leadership:
Over a period of time beginning before my children were born, I’ve helped with youth sports. I’ve served on a number of boards, but one I’m especially proud of is the board of Full Spectrum Farms in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It helps adults and adolescents with autism.
Memberships and Associations:
I’m active with the local and state Bar Associations and with the local Chamber of Commerce.
My wife, our children, and I are active in our church, Pinnacle Church. It’s associated with the Southern Baptist Association, but it’s pretty independent.
Why are you running for this office?
I’m running because I think the future of our courts is in jeopardy. So far, our state courts aren’t politically active, but I’m afraid that will change. I don’t want our courts to become a “super-legislature.”
I want my children to grow up knowing a judge judges the facts of cases and does not set policy. The Constitution is a shield for our rights, not a sword to strike down legislation we don’t like.
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
I’m pretty much the head of my campaign. Well, with my wife.  I run everything by her.  Plus, we have volunteers – folks in the mountains, and folks in the east.  Also, Carolyn Justice and Andy Yeats are working with us.
I’m proud to have the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
John Adams.
Why?
I’ve recently read a book about him, and watched the mini-series on him available through Amazon, and I like how he was early on.  He recognized the proper role of the Constitution in binding the federal government with things it can and cannot do. He understood the proper role of the states.
Toward the end, when the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed for example, I was no longer a fan.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
In the setting she was talking about (in executive and legislative roles), her statement could be right.
But with a three judge panel, consensus can be very important because if you don’t agree, you don’t establish a constant, logical body of law. Sure, I’ll write a descenting opinion if I disagree, but I would hope that agreement will occur most of the time.
Which President do you most admire? Why?
I admire what Reagan was able to do with foreign policy and economics. He created long range effects in those areas. I tend to look at the results of a Presidency, not necessarily the rah-rah along the way, but Reagan was great at giving speeches during the time he was President, too.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
            a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
            b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
“It’s b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government.”
To evaluate the Constitution, it’s necessary to look at the 4 corners of the document and interpret the words of the document itself. Even the Federalist Papers are the opinions of a handful of people. There are two phrases that then current standards need to be taken into account in order to understand. They are “reasonable searches and seizures,” and “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened? How did you resolve it?
I’ve faced that in the last 2 months with fund raising. I was encouraged to raise money from different PACs and large law firms. That made me uncomfortable.  I talked to my wife and to our pastor about it.  I decided not to do it.  I just accept contributions from individuals.  I want to win, but I also want to sleep at night.
Where do individual rights come from?
God.
What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
I think there are a lot of problems with the testing aspects of it.
I don’t have a position on it. I think the legislature needs to decide that policy.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
Gun ownership is important. We are gun owners. People need to protect themselves and stand up for what’s right if it comes to that.
I’m not in favor of registration because then the federal government and foreign governments would know where the guns are.
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
The phrase is over-used. It is not what the Constitution says. It’s been the mantra of certain cases for the last one hundred years. I’m bound to follow prior court decisions. I don’t believe we should ban anyone from praying – not even a public official – but I’m bound by precedents set by higher courts.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
Making sure we get opinions right. Helping illuminate a constant body of law – a logical (not mis-matched) body of law.
This interview was conducted by Kathryn Blankley, Hal James, and Raynor James.

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