Well, Gov. Pat McCrory finally won one in a confrontation with the General Assembly’s leaders, and the state Supreme Court has offered what is hoped to be the final word on the creation of a coal ash commission by the legislature.
The court ruled that legislative leaders went beyond their authority in 2014 when they created a Coal Ash Management Commission and two others similar to it. The commission was going to hold hearings around the state and develop a list of priorities and guidelines for closing and cleaning up coal ash storage basins, which hold the waste left over from coal burned in power plants.
The power to oversee such things belongs in the executive branch and the governor’s office, and McCrory sued to reinforce that principle. He was joined in a lawsuit by former Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican, and former Gov. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, who shared his concern that the powers of the executive were harmed by the legislature’s action. Legislative leaders were just wrong and probably suffered an acute case of chest-pounding in trying to run over the governor. He’ll now take charge.
Legislative leaders, after all, have repudiated McCrory’s vetoes and treated him with disrespect when it comes to the budget process. But separation of powers is a vital principle of democracy and must be protected. It’s important that the state’s highest court has affirmed that principle.