Former North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Leaves Republican Party After 45 Years

A retired justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court and a longtime Republican has resigned from the party and become an unaffiliated voter in the wake of the state party's censure of Senator Richard Burr.

Judge Bob Orr announced his decision on Twitter and noted his long service to the GOP. While he didn't give a precise reason for his decision, he's recently highlighted the party's treatment of Burr and shared posts critical of other Republicans.

"Just made it official. After 45 years as a registered Republican, I am now an Unaffiliated voter," Orr wrote. "I leave the GOP having won 4 statewide elections in NC as the Republican nominee. Only 3 others in NC history have won more."

Orr was first elected to the state's supreme court in 1994 and served as an associate justice until 2004. He previously served on the state's court of appeals from 1986 to 1994. Judges of that court are also elected.

He was also a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, where he supported former Ohio Governor John Kasich.

The judge shared an image of his voter registration form with a prominent cross in the "unaffiliated" box.

Though Orr did not make his reasons for leaving the party explicit, he has recently shared retweets criticizing the GOP and tweets supportive of Burr. His profile also features the hashtag #NeverTrump.

On February 14, Orr appeared to link his resignation directly with the censure. Sharing an article about Burr, he tweeted: "I CAN'T WAIT TO LEAVE THE GOP. PAPERWORK TO BE FILED NEXT WEEK."

Burr was one of just six Republican senators to vote in favor of convicting former President Donald Trump. The North Carolina Republican Party's central committee censured Burr as a result.

Just made it official. After 45 years as a registered Republican, I am now an Unaffiliated voter. I leave the GOP having won 4 statewide elections in NC as the Republican nominee. Only 3 others in NC history have won more. pic.twitter.com/Q2TjShOmdI

— Judge Bob Orr (@JudgeBobOrr) February 17, 2021

"It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans," Burr said of the censure. "My party's leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation."

Orr later tweeted his gratitude to Twitter users for their support following his announcement.

"Hey TwitterWorld, thanks for the extraordinarily positive response to my tweet this afternoon about registering Unaffiliated after 45 years as a Republican," he said. "All (well, almost all) very positive and encouraging. Wish I could respond to each individual but just not feasible."

"I'm a single issue voter these days. Do you support Trump? If so, I'm voting against you," Orr tweeted on Wednesday.

Orr caused controversy at the Republican convention in 2016 by refusing to vote for Trump. Many in the North Carolina delegation wanted to unite in Trump's favor as he was the presumptive nominee.

"I cannot vote for Trump, either for the nomination or in November," Orr said at the time. "I think he's singularly unqualified to lead this country. He's someone who would be a danger to the country."

Delegates at the 2016 Republican National Convention
View of state delegates, many with signs, on the floor at the Republican National Convention in the Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. As a delegate, Judge Bob Orr refused to vote for Donald Trump. Mark Reinstein/Corbis