Dome: Gov. Perdue ensures she will pick NC Supreme Court judge

jfrank@newsobserver.comDecember 5, 2012 

PERDUE10-NE-062612-RTW

Governor Bev Perdue

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

Gov. Bev Perdue signed an executive order Wednesday that will enable her to fill a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court in the waning days of her term.

The new order, No. 137, essentially rescinds a previous executive order that had required an independent nominating commission to recommend candidates for court vacancies. In the document, she blamed time constraints as the reason to circumvent the process she created, and even went so far as to urge future governors to use the commission.

Perdue’s new order calls the changes “a temporary modification” that gives her the ability to pick her own candidates for “all judicial vacancies that currently exist or that may arise” before she leaves office in a month.

State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson announced in November that she would step down. Democrats lost a heated battle to defeat Republican Justice Paul Newby in the November elections.

Perdue said she will exercise her constitutional and statutory authority to fill vacancies on her own, and plans to consult members of the commission “as I deem appropriate.”

Back in April, when she established the commission, Perdue said, “There is no place for politics when it comes to choosing the state’s most honored and influential legal servants.”

Republicans are calling Perdue a hypocrite for reneging on her previous executive order.

Hall is House minority leader

House Democrats have selected Rep. Larry Hall of Durham as minority leader.

Hall was unopposed and elected by acclamation when the House Democratic Caucus met Wednesday. Other leadership positions will be decided at a future meeting, and discussion of Democratic strategy for the coming session is ongoing.

No decision has been reached about whether Hall will be nominated as a candidate for House Speaker – a bid he would inevitably lose to current Speaker Thom Tillis – or whether the caucus will let the Mecklenburg County Republican through unopposed.

Democrats are waiting to see how Republicans will use their control of the governorship and both legislative chambers to build a strategy.

“I’m sure they’ll work out that power dynamic on their side,” Hall said. “We’re here to look out for the interests of the people of North Carolina and hopefully keep them from getting caught up in any dispute (Republicans) may have regarding that division of power.”

Military cuts worry Hagan

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Wednesday negotiators from both parties need to get to work in Washington to reach a budget settlement that includes revenue increases and spending cuts.

The alternative – the automatic spending cuts and tax increases known as sequestration – would be “extremely damaging to North Carolina,” Hagan said on a conference call with reporters.

She said the bitter pill was meant to force Congress to compromise, but it’s the wrong approach because it also cuts from the military. Hagan estimated North Carolina would lose 34,000 military and defense-industry jobs by 2014 if there’s no compromise plan by Dec. 31.

One last tree lighting

Gov. Bev Perdue participates in her last Capitol Christmas tree lighting Thursday. Perdue and First Gentleman Bob Eaves will hang wreaths on the Capitol’s south doors to begin the tree-lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. After the tree is lit – exactly at 6:27 p.m., according to a statement from the Governor’s office – the governor will join Santa in reading to local children.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m., and the Capitol will be open for tours from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m.

Staff writers John Frank, Austin Baird and Renee Schoof contributed.

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