News: Quick Takes

UPDATE: Cooper asks court to halt confirmation

UPDATE, Tuesday 7 a.m. Gov. Cooper filed a request in Superior Court for a temporary restraining order to halt the confirmation of his Cabinet appointees until the litigation is complete. WRAL reports a hearing on that request could take place today.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has asked Republican Senate leaders to delay confirmation hearings on his Cabinet nominees until a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the confirmation law is decided.

“Despite the pending lawsuit and despite my request for delay until the lawsuit is decided, the Senate has scheduled my appointees to appear for confirmation hearings beginning this Wednesday, Feb., 8,” Cooper writes in a hand-delivered letter to the office of Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

Cooper’s pick for secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, former Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, is scheduled for a confirmation hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Others are scheduled for later in February and into March.

In December 2016, the General Assembly approved a law that, in part, invoked a provision of the N.C. Constitution that reads: “The Governor shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of a majority of the Senators appoint all officers whose appointments are not otherwise provided for.”

In his letter, Cooper says he wants to come up with an amicable solution rather than go to the courts. He says the “advice and consent” clause applies only to constitutional officers, and not statutory Cabinet secretaries.

In response, Berger’s office says Cooper is being disingenuous.

“For years, Cabinet secretaries have met behind closed doors to share their qualifications and address any concerns — like conflicts of interest — legislators may have,” Berger said in a statement. “It is extremely disturbing that Roy Cooper is demanding the state courts keep these meetings hidden behind closed doors and out of the public eye.”