Roy Cooper is in a very lonely place. He’s a Democratic state attorney general surrounded by conservative Republicans who control North Carolina state government. Now those Republicans have put Cooper in an awkward spot. He has publicly condemned GOP-sponsored laws on voter identification and gay marriage, yet must defend those same laws in court. Further complicating matters, Cooper plans to run for governor in 2016. That has prompted Republican charges that he’s more interested in being governor than upholding North Carolina’s laws.
Cooper, in his 13th year as the state’s elected attorney general, says he will defend in court laws he personally opposes. But he says he will also continue to criticize the public policy behind those laws.
“If I believe a law is bad for North Carolina, I will say so,” Cooper, 56, said in an interview at his downtown office. “I have a responsibility to say so.”
At the same time, he said: “It is the duty under the law for this office to defend the state when it gets sued — even if I personally disagree with the public policy. This office is going to follow the law.”