The power struggle between North Carolina’s Democratic governor and the Republican-led General Assembly will be on display Tuesday as arguments about the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, and what each side contends that means, are made in front of the third branch of government.
A three-judge panel will preside over a hearing inside the Campbell University law school on Tuesday to consider whether the Republicans at the helm of the legislative branch unconstitutionally grabbed power from the new governor, Roy Cooper, shortly after he emerged victorious over Republican Pat McCrory.
The case could help decide whether the Republican agenda of the past four years pushes ahead or whether state government changes course to include more policies and spending plans aligned with Democrats.
At issue are laws passed in a special post-election session that:
▪ Make it so the state Senate has a say over Cooper’s appointments to lead 10 state agencies, a change that Cooper argues is a diminishment of power provided to the governor by the state Constitution. Legislators argue that the Constitution provides for such a review.
▪ Merge the state’s ethics commission and elections board, a revamp that gives Republicans the chairmanship of state and local elections boards during even-numbered years when elections for major statewide and national office are held. Until that change, Cooper had the authority to appoint the five elections board members, three from his party and two based on recommendations from the Republican Party.
▪ Shifted protections for some state employees hired by McCrory as their jobs were moved into a category that makes them more difficult to fire them without cause.