After passing politically divisive legislation on voting laws and setting in motion new abortion restrictions, North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly has given itself the authority to defend them in court. Last month, in a last-minute move before adjourning for the year, lawmakers inserted two sentences into legislation clarifying a new hospital-billing law that would give the state House speaker and Senate leader the option to defend a state statute or provision of North Carolina’s constitution and not rely on Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat. Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has until Aug. 25 to veto the measure. Cooper hasn’t refused to defend the state in any case, though counterparts in California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania said they would not defend their states’ same-sex marriage bans.
GOP lawmakers don’t trust Cooper to fully defend Republican initiatives in court after he publicly criticized North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage as well as the voting and abortion regulations, said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.
“There’s some cases that other people need to present through the courts,” Stam said.
Stam said his suspicion of Cooper increased when the attorney general started a petition drive urging McCrory to veto the election law changes. Cooper complained they were tailored to make it harder for people to register and vote. After McCrory signed the voting rules into law on Monday, Cooper sent a campaign email to supporters saying: “I’m appalled that the bill is now law.”