A panel of three judges would have ruled against Gov. Roy Cooper in one of his power struggles with state lawmakers, this one over control of elections boards. In a ruling released Tuesday, the judges said that if they had jurisdiction of the case they would have decided that lawmakers had not violated the state Constitution when they created an eight-member board – evenly divided between the major political parties – to preside over state election issues and ethics complaints. The case could determine whether Republicans will have leadership on elections boards at the state and county level during presidential election years when North Carolina voters also elect their governor. The findings from the three judges — L. Todd Burke of Forsyth County, Jesse Caldwell of Gaston County and Jeffrey Foster of Pitt County — put the case back before the state Supreme Court.
The seven justices heard arguments in late August on the case, which is being watched by national voting rights organizations.
Several days after the attorneys made their oral arguments, the court’s newest justice, Mike Morgan, issued an order asking the three judges to provide more detail about the jurisdictional issue that led them to dismiss the case and also to tell the justices how they would have ruled had they thought they had jurisdiction.
The judges explained in their ruling released on Tuesday that they thought Cooper was asking them to wade into political questions that were improperly before them.