Last night, a panel of judges handed a rare victory to Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, temporarily blocking the Senate from holding hearings to confirm his cabinet nominees—part of a series of provisions enacted at the end of the year limiting the incoming governor’s power. The temporary order postponed a hearing today on Cooper’s appointee for the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.
Cooper—who narrowly ousted incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in November’s election and has since been grappling with a hostile legislature—praised the court’s decision. “We need to put these partisan confirmation games behind us and get on with repealing HB 2, raising teacher pay and getting better jobs for North Carolinians,” he said in a statement. “The court is absolutely correct in their decision and should not be intimidated by threats from legislative leaders.”
Unsurprisingly, Republican leaders slammed the decision, calling it “a gross misreading of the Constitution and a blatant overstep of their Constitutional authority.”
“Judges are not legislators and if these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat,” Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said in a joint statement. “Their decision to legislate from the bench will have profound consequences, and they should immediately reconvene their panel and reverse their order.”
At the center of the controversy is a new system for approval gubernatorial appointments, enacted in the wake of Cooper’s victory of McCrory. Not long after Cooper defeated McCrory in November’s election, lawmakers held a December emergency legislative session in which they passed a series of measures limiting Cooper’s powers, including the aforementioned measure requiring state Senate confirmation of cabinet appointments.