Governor-elect Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the General Assembly’s special session law that revamps the state elections board. The lawsuit was the second filed in the waning days of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration that challenge changes that were adopted by the General Assembly in a special session in December and signed into law by the Republican governor. On Thursday, the state Board of Education sued legislators over a law that would transfer their power to set education policy to the new state superintendent, a Republican. An attorney representing Cooper said at a court hearing Friday that more challenges could be filed next week by the new Democratic governor contesting other changes to his appointment powers – setting the stage for a contentious beginning between the state’s chief executive officer and the Republican lawmakers at the helm of both General Assembly chambers. Cooper is scheduled to be sworn in as governor as soon after midnight on Jan. 1 as possible, though his public inauguration is not taking place until Jan. 7.
On Friday, Cooper’s attorneys persuaded Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens to block enactment of the law revamping the state elections board until further court proceedings could take place.
The law was set to take effect Sunday, when the North Carolina State Board of Elections would officially have ceased to exist. That change will be delayed for at least a week, and Stephens set another hearing on the case for Thursday.
The law would merge the elections board with the State Ethics Commission, which administers ethics laws governing lobbyists, elected officials and government employees. Cooper’s attorneys argued in the lawsuit that the changes violate the state’s constitution.