Gov. Roy Cooper has filed suit against state legislative leaders again, on the same day the N.C. Supreme Court rejected his bid to throw out a new merged state ethics and elections board.
In a one-sentence order released Tuesday, March 13, the state’s highest court denied Cooper’s attempt to throw out a three-judge trial court’s order preserving the newly merged board. The unanimous three-judge panel struck down the portion of state law establishing the board’s membership. But the judges agreed the merger could proceed.
House Bill 90, set to take effect Friday, March 16, would address the membership issue. The new board would have nine members, all appointed by Cooper. He would appoint four Democrats and four Republicans from lists of candidates proposed by each major party. Those eight members would recommend two unaffiliated voters as candidates for Cooper’s ninth appointment.
Cooper’s latest suit challenges that arrangement. He’s seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. His goal is to block the portion of H.B. 90 that deals with the merged elections and ethics board.
“Just days after a lower court ruled against the governor, the North Carolina Supreme Court just rejected his latest attempt to prevent bipartisan elections and ethics enforcement — and yet he’s going to court again,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, in a prepared statement.
“Today’s lawsuit – filed against a bill the governor pledged he would allow to become law – tries to stop not only the bipartisan elections enforcement that 80 percent of North Carolinians want, but potentially also jeopardizes class size funding and more than $57 million in additional funds for school children in Eastern North Carolina,” Hise and Lewis continued.
The references to class size and $57 million address other portions of H.B. 90. Cooper’s new suit does not appear to address those portions of the law.