Election 2016

Judge Blocks North Carolina Law Limiting Next Governor’s Power

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A local state judge has temporary blocked the legislation passed by Republicans in North Carolina that would limit the power of newly elected Governor Roy Cooper.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ruled on Friday that the law will remain blocked while it's reviewed by the court.

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.

Cooper, the former state attorney general, argues that the law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature during a special session just before Christmas is unconstitutional.

It remains to be seen how the court will ultimately rule, but there's a fairly good chance the former state attorney general knows the law better than the yahoos in the state legislature. State Republicans have not fared well in local court battles in recent months.

This case could have implications for the rest of the nation as Republicans in other states will undoubtedly attempt similar maneuvers to weaken Democratic governors in the future.

Governor Roy Cooper's first term began yesterday.

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    I don’t see the legal justification for blocking the law. “That’s a dick move” isn’t really a recognized legal theory that would prevent the legislature from getting away with this.

    As far as I know, there’s nothing against the law in what they passed – the only problem is the naked partisanship of it. And the courts are going to be loath to step in and block something “just because it’s partisan.”

  • Republicans needn’t worry. Even if this judge finds against them, they’ll just forum shop to Texas and a district judge there will issue a nationwide ban against Governors suing their legislatures. It’s how things work now.

  • muselet

    Given the legislative history—when Pat McCrory became governor, the R-dominated lege wildly expanded the powers of the governor’s office; when Roy Cooper was elected governor, the R-dominated lege cut the powers of the governor’s office to less than they were before McCrory took office—I don’t see this law surviving. The justifications so far offered don’t pass the giggle test, and they won’t get any more plausible going forward.

    However, I fully expect the Rs to fight for this law for years, coming up with new and creative ways to avoid admitting they were just trying to screw over a D governor. They may even shoot the moon and try to appeal to the Supreme Court, at which point everything depends on what mood Judge … no, excuse me, Justice Judy is in that day.


  • Aynwrong

    I’m praying that the court sides with Cooper and that it gives D’s in North Carolina a chance at undoing the voter suppression put in place by the NC GOP. If that happens, it might give whoever the Democratic nominee is a chance is in four years at taking back the White House.