A three-judge panel has expanded Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to make certain appointments, the latest step in a separation-of-powers struggle that began when then-Gov. Pat McCrory sued the General Assembly in 2016. Cooper sued in May 2017 challenging the constitutionality of the legislature appointing the majority of members to certain boards and commissions. In some cases the legislature gave itself that authority. In other cases, Cooper argued, the legislature should have changed the membership of some existing boards to reflect rulings by the state Supreme Court. The three state Superior Court judges in a ruling filed Friday noted that the Supreme Court in the lawsuit brought by McCrory said the General Assembly had overstepped its authority.
“The separation of powers clause plainly and clearly does not allow the General Assembly to take this much control over the execution of the laws from the Governor and lodge it within itself,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Friday’s order says the Supreme Court laid out a test for who can make the appointments.
In this case, they ruled, because the General Assembly appoints a majority of members on each of the boards named in Cooper’s lawsuit, because the governor’s authority to remove them is constrained, and because the boards have the final say in how to execute laws, the statutes governing their appointments violates the separation of powers requirement “beyond any reasonable doubt.”