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Judge Blocks Law Limiting Incoming North Carolina Governor’s Power

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Judge Blocks Law Limiting Incoming North Carolina Governor’s Power

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North Carolina

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – A North Carolina judge on Friday temporarily blocked a state law hours after incoming Democratic Governor Roy Cooper sued to void Republican-backed legislation lessening his control over state and county elections boards, local media reported.

Cooper’s transition team described the measure, which would have abolished the current state elections board on Sunday, when he will be sworn in during a private ceremony, as “unconstitutional legislative overreach.”

The law, enacted by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature during a special session this month, calls for the governor and legislature to appoint four members each to a new board evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, governors appointed a majority of members.

The measure also replaces three-member county elections boards, where the sitting governor’s party had the majority, with four-member boards made up of two Republicans and two Democrats each.

A temporary restraining order issued by a Wake County Superior Court judge will stop the law from taking effect on Sunday, WRAL.com reported.

Cooper’s lawsuit argues that the changes violate the state constitution’s separation of powers requirements by shifting control from the executive agency responsible for administering election laws to legislators, according to media reports.

The law was among a series of measures approved during a special session in mid-December to curtail Cooper’s executive authority before he succeeds outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory.

“This complex new law passed in just two days by the Republican legislature is unconstitutional and anything but bipartisan,” Cooper said in a statement. “A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote.”

McCrory, who trailed Cooper by about 10,000 votes when he conceded the race nearly four weeks after the Nov. 8 election, and other Republican leaders have argued the new elections law would help ensure a fair voting process.

Senate leader Phil Berger on Friday criticized Cooper’s legal action.

“Roy Cooper’s effort to stop the creation of a bipartisan board with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to enforce elections and ethics laws may serve his desire to preserve his own political power, but it does not serve the best interests of our state,” Berger said in a statement.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

IMAGE: North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper speaks to supporters at a victory rally the day after his Republican opponent and incumbent Pat McCrory conceded in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., December 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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11 Comments

  1. Lynda Groom December 30, 2016

    This seems to be sound legal judgement. If not then why didn’t the legislature and the losing governor put such in place while McCrory was still the hot seat? Naked partisan power grabs go against our democratic principles…even in North Carolina.

    Reply
    1. I Am Helpy December 30, 2016

      Wait, I see the problem here – you still think the Republicans have principles.

      1. dbtheonly December 31, 2016

        No Helpy, Republicans have principal.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth December 30, 2016

    Seems as though the Republicans in NC aren’t satisfied with gorging themselves on control of the state legislature. Can’t feed the hogs enough before they’re yammering for more.

    Here’s an idea, NC GOP—Let’s enact laws to make sure that a 50-50 balance exists on the state level in the legislature, OK??

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly December 31, 2016

      But you see how the arguments are going to go.

      The key is really the Republican definition of bi-partisan: Doing things the was the Republicans want. As opposed to compromise which is a dirty word.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth December 31, 2016

        I anticipate that our Republican friends will continue to be intractable and blindly attached to their ideology of rigidity. You’re right that the word compromise is a dirty word—it’s as though to compromise is to signal defeat resulting in some fatality.

        The “R” word has many flavors—Republican, Rigid, “Rightist”, Recalcitrant, Racialist, Retrogressive, etc.

  3. Lone Star Ray December 31, 2016

    The judge Don Stephens is a democrat.

    A court order based on opinion about risks rather than law generally are overturned

    Reply
    1. 788eddie January 1, 2017

      What does it matter if he is a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or socialist. His decisions must be based upon legal precedents.

      1. Lone Star Ray January 1, 2017

        It matters because Dem’s judges are for the most part liberal constructionists who are more like tea leaf readers than followers of the plain meaning of law.

        1. 788eddie January 1, 2017

          That’s one person’s opinion; not mine.

          I’ll bet you could look through a keyhole with both eyes at the same time, Ray.

  4. bojimbo26 December 31, 2016

    Mr McCrory , being a known wanker …………………………………………….

    Reply

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