October 20, 2017/Press

Editorial Boards: NC GOP Obstruction, Judicial Scheme “Disservice to the People of North Carolina”

Raleigh – Editorial boards again slammed Senator Berger, Speaker Moore and the unconstitutionally-elected GOP caucus for their blatantly political efforts to bend the courts to their will and their “obstructionist” efforts to block Governor Cooper’s nominations and appointments. The NC GOP has shown that the only motivation driving their caucus is how to rig the system for their benefit, placing judges they don’t like under their thumb and undercutting anyone that gets in their way. Breaking their unconstitutionally-elected supermajority is the most important step our state can take to begin to curb their abuses.

WRAL: Legislative leaders want to put justice up for sale

“In the many missteps this legislature has taken in politicizing the courts, this one goes into the deepest sinkhole yet. It is a dangerous plan that will give justice to the highest bidder. It is a notion that will lead to corruption at every level of the judicial system.”

News & Observer: NC’s GOP legislators take petty revenge against Cooper

“The delays have dragged on for months, and the reason is simple: Cooper is a Democrat, and since before he took office, Republicans have tried to strip that office of power and money any way they could in trying to curb Cooper’s appointive power and budget.”

Asheville Citizen Times: Who made the grade? This week’s editorial report card

“F to General Assembly leaders who are refusing to consider 10 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominations to three boards, including full-time positions on the Utilities Commission … This is yet one more example of a GOP-dominated legislature’s attempts to cripple a Democratic governor by obstructionist tactics that rise to the level of malfeasance and possibly unconstitutionality.”

WRAL: Legislative leaders want to put justice up for sale
By the Editorial Board
October 20, 2017

Justice in North Carolina doesn’t need to be blind. It should go to the highest bidder. That seems to be the main objective of Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and their rules committee chairs Sen. Bill Rabon and Rep. David Lewis.

That is the practical impact of their dangerous plan to change the State Constitution to dramatically reduce the terms of state judges – including state Supreme Court justices – from eight to a mere two years.

They should install “FOR SALE” signs in front of every courthouse and on every judge’s bench.

A shift to two-year terms would make judges constantly accountable to those who contributed the most to their campaigns. Fundraising would be constant. It would give a new, and quite literal meaning to the notion of judge shopping.

In post-colonial America a lifetime appointment for judges – of course requiring “good behavior” – was a critical element of independent justice. Judges shouldn’t have their jobs dependent on the ever-shifting currents of popular politics. Similarly, their salaries had to be guaranteed so they’d be free from retribution by the budget-writing legislature.

Now, we might forgive Lewis and Rabon – the sponsors of record – they’re not lawyers. But Berger and Moore are attorneys and are familiar with the concept of an independent and impartial judiciary. They both know that the principle of judicial independence in the U.S. Constitution can be traced to John Adams and his role in forming North Carolina’s Constitution of 1776.

Berger, Moore, Rabon and Lewis shouldn’t take North Carolina voters for fools. The cynicism of this latest ploy was unmistakable when Rabon sought to justify the timing for the proposed constitutional amendment:

“In the coming months, the Senate will carefully consider a number of options for reforming the way judges are selected in North Carolina, including the House’s judicial redistricting bill, moving to some form of merit selection of judges and retention elections for judges,” Rabon, said.

Just when was the last time North Carolina citizens witnessed the legislature “carefully consider” anything? When was the last time the legislature offered a glimpse, let alone a discussion of “a number of options” on anything?

The selection and longevity of North Carolina judges has changed a bit over time to include nonpartisan elections, public funding and eight-year terms – good ideas that make a lot of sense.

In the many missteps this legislature has taken in politicizing the courts, this one goes into the deepest sinkhole yet. It is a dangerous plan that will give justice to the highest bidder. It is a notion that will lead to corruption at every level of the judicial system.

Read the full editorial here.

News & Observer: NC’s GOP legislators take petty revenge against Cooper
By the Editorial Board
October 19, 2017

Roy Cooper committed a Big Sin last November, one that Republican leaders of the General Assembly apparently find unforgivable.

Yes, the veteran attorney general won the governor’s office over a Republican legislators didn’t particularly like, Pat McCrory, but at least he was a Republican. So even though Cooper was a veteran legislator himself before becoming attorney general for four terms, GOP leaders are still pouting. Thus, they’re dragging their heels on approving Cooper’s appointments to boards such as the Utilities Commission, the State Board of Education and the board of the State Employees Retirement system (WRAL reports).

The delays have dragged on for months, and the reason is simple: Cooper is a Democrat, and since before he took office, Republicans have tried to strip that office of power and money any way they could in trying to curb Cooper’s appointive power and budget. Cooper’s still fighting the actions, but he can’t do much about the latest immature, petulant behavior of Republican leaders in simply sitting on their hands and delaying approval of Cooper’s choices on key boards.

But it’s beyond ridiculous partisanship. This is irresponsible, hurting the decision-making process on key boards and defying the governor’s constitutional right to make these appointments. This kind of behavior is a disservice to the people of North Carolina. But maybe Republicans are mad at them, too. They elected Cooper, after all.

Read the full editorial here.

Asheville Citizen Times: Who made the grade? This week’s editorial report card
By the Editorial Board
October 20, 2017

F to General Assembly leaders who are refusing to consider 10 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s nominations to three boards, including full-time positions on the Utilities Commission. Cooper made some of the appointments six months ago but neither house of the General Assembly has scheduled hearings and neither intends to do so until next year. This is yet one more example of a GOP-dominated legislature’s attempts to cripple a Democratic governor by obstructionist tactics that rise to the level of malfeasance and possibly unconstitutionality.

Read the full editorial here.

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