Thanks to a superior court judge, the Republican power grab in the North Carolina has been shut down, at least temporarily.
On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens blocked a law that had been passed by the GOP-controlled congress which would have placed outrageous limits on the governor’s control over election boards. The legislation limited the governor’s power over both state and county election boards. The judge ruled that such a law presented a very real danger to free and fair elections in the state.
In North Carolina, the governor’s party gets a majority when it comes to election boards. But when the state elected a Democrat to serve as governor, the GOP freaked out and pushed through legislation that would split election boards evenly between the parties.
One law, Senate Bill 4, removes state and county elections boards from Democratic control, slows legal battles’ path to the state Supreme Court — where a majority of justices were appointed by Democrats — and makes the state Supreme Court elections partisan rather than nonpartisan.
A second piece of legislation, House Bill 17, would block Cooper from appointing any members to the state Board of Education and to the board of trustees for the University of North Carolina system. It would reduce the number of appointments up to the governor from 1,500 to 425.
Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the measure into law two weeks ago in an effort to undermine his Democratic successor, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper (D).
Cooper filed a lawsuit on Friday to prevent the law from being implemented. The judge temporarily blocked the law while he reviews the matter further over the coming week.
“The leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly moved … to curtail, in significant ways, the executive powers that will pass to him on January 1,” the request for an injunction said. “Those changes are unconstitutional because they violate the separation of powers provisions enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution by shifting control over that agency away from the Governor to the General Assembly.”
Opponents of the legislation argue that it is a clear violation of separation of powers making the law unconstitutional. Cooper is set to take office on Sunday. His attorneys said their goal is to “reaffirm that the executive branch is co-equal to the legislative branch, no matter which political party holds the office.”
Needless to say, after the judge’s ruling on Friday, Republicans are not at all happy with the outcome. Their underhanded plan to tie the hands of McCrory’s Democratic successor have failed, at least for the time being.
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