NC Judge Blocks Law Targeting Democratic Governor's Power

Roy Cooper will hold onto the traditional powers of his office for at least a week
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2016 10:36 AM CST
NC Judge Blocks Law Targeting Democratic Governor's Power
A judge has temporarily blocked a new law intended to remove some power from Roy Cooper, North Carolina's newly elected Democratic governor.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

North Carolina's governor-elect, Roy Cooper, will hold onto the traditional powers of the office—at least for a week—after a judge Friday temporarily blocked a new law from taking effect, the News and Observer reports. In what the AP calls a "legislative power play," the Republican-controlled general assembly passed a series of laws during a special session to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor. The law in question, which Cooper filed a lawsuit over Friday, concerns the state's elections boards. Traditionally, the governor's party gets three out of five seats on the state elections board and two out of three seats on county elections boards, WRAL reports. The new law splits an eight-member state election board evenly among both parties while giving Republicans control of county boards during even-numbered years (major election years) and Democrats control in odd years.

The new law was set to take effect Sunday, but judge Donald Stephens delayed it by at least a week until after another hearing. He says the delay is justified because of the law's potential impact on fair elections. Cooper argues the new law is unconstitutional because it gives too much power to one branch of government. A lawyer for Republican leaders in the state's general assembly admits the law would give the general assembly greater control over North Carolina elections. Cooper isn't the only one suing over the new laws. On Thursday, the state's board of education sued over one that would transfer its power to a new Republican state superintendent. Cooper's attorney says more legal challenges could come next week. (Read more North Carolina stories.)

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