We’ve long wondered what the legislature’s wrong-headed laws are costing North Carolina, both in reputation and in taxpayer dollars to defend them in court. It may be impossible to put a precise dollar figure on the state’s reputation, but we now know the legal cost: More than $8 million. The Associated Press reported last week that the Republican-led General Assembly has budgeted $4 million a year for the next two years to pay outside lawyers to defend controversial N.C. laws.
The legislature’s outside legal costs have totaled more than $3 million just since July 2014, the AP reported, mostly to defend its election reform bill that included photo ID and other provisions.
Republican leaders say they question whether Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper will vigorously defend the laws in question, considering he is running for governor against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature’s conservative policies. That’s understandable, given Cooper’s sometimes outspoken and transparently political opposition to those laws.