There’s an assumption that all state judges are permitted to perform marriages. While this is true in some states, it does not apply to every single jurist in every state.
North Carolina’s “General Court of Justice” (as the branch is formally known in the state constitution) has four types of judges: Supreme Court Justices, Court of Appeals Judges, Superior Court Judges, and District Court Judges. Current state law (§ 51-1) provides none of them may preside over a marriage and that a marriage is valid only if done
- In the presence of an ordained minister of any religious denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate; and with the consequent declaration by the minister or magistrate that the persons are husband and wife; or
- In accordance with any mode of solemnization recognized by any religious denomination, or federally or State recognized Indian Nation or Tribe.
For years there have been efforts to try to add, either temporarily or as a permanent amendment to the law, at least some judges to the list of those who can perform marriages. The latest effort was 2013′s SB 236. As approved by the House, the bill would add Superior Court judges to the list for 3 days in November.
Efforts, most notably in 2005, to make permanent the power of the state’s judges to perform marriage ceremonies have gone nowhere.
Full list of attempts below the fold.
|Year||Bill||Who authorized||How long authorized||Status|
|1998||HB 1405||District court judges, who were formerly assistant district attorneys of the Thirteenth Judicial District||Enactment-7/31/99||Signed into law 8/31/98|
|1999||HB 973||Superior court judge of North Carolina or any other state||Enactment-9/15/00||Signed into law 7/6/00|
|2001||HB 142 / SB 152||Regular resident superior court judge||5/19/01-5/28/01||Signed into law 5/10/01|
|2001||HB 183||1) Emergency superior court judges
2) District court judges
|4/13/01-4/16/01 (superior)6/1/01 to 6/4/01 (district)||Signed into law 4/1/01|
|2002||HB 1581||1) Resident & emergency superior court judges
2) District court judges
|11/25/02-12/1/02 (superior)9/19/02-9/22/02 (district)||Signed into law 9/16/02|
|2003||HB 382||District court judges||Enactment-3/31/03||Signed into law 3/27/03|
|2004||SB 1042||District court judges||Enactment-5/16/04||Died in committee|
|2005||HB 327||Superior and district court judges||Permanent||Died in conference committee|
|2005||HB 1137||District court judges||6/23/05-6/27/05||Died in committee|
|2005||SB 262||District court judges||6/23/05-6/27/05||Became law without governor’s signature 5/24/05|
|2007||SB 1131||District court judges||6/4/07-6/8/07||Signed into law 6/5/07|
|2009||HB 16||Any retired state judge||2/27/09-3/1/09||Died in committee|
|2009||HB 494||Superior court judges||4/8/09-4/15/09||Signed into law 4/9/09|
|2009||HB 1281||Senate amendment: Authorized Federal district court judges||10/14/10-10/18/10||Approved by full House 5/11/09; Approved with Senate amendment by full Senate 7/8/10; House did not take up amended bill|
|2009||HB 1398||Senate amendment: Authorized Federal district court judges||10/14/10-10/18/10||House refused to concur with Senate amendment|
|2009||HB 1486||Court of appeals judge of North Carolina or court of appeals judge from any other state||6/25/09-6/29/09||Died in committee|
|2009||SB 59||All state judges||Permanent||Language removed and replaced with unrelated bill in committee|
|2012||SB 847||Superior court judges||7/26/12-7/30/12||Signed into law 7/17/12|
|2013||SB 236||House amendment: Superior court judges||11/1/13-11/3/13||Senate refused to concur with House amendment|