Cooper must be free to choose his cabinet

| February 17, 2017

roycooperEditorial by Winston-Salem Journal, February 13, 2017.

We appreciate the discernment of the three N.C. Superior Court judges who last week issued a temporary restraining order to allow Gov. Roy Cooper to appoint his Cabinet secretaries unhindered, as the Journal’s Richard Craver reported. Their order overrides a portion of House Bill 17, which the Republican-controlled legislature passed and includes a mandate that Cooper’s appointees meet their approval.

This ruling must be made permanent when it’s heard in March. The new governor shouldn’t be stripped of powers his predecessors enjoyed, especially not because of partisan politics.

The law requiring Cooper’s nominees for state Cabinet agencies to undergo confirmation hearings was passed during the December 2016 special session and signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory’s department heads hadn’t been required to jump through this hoop, nor had those of his predecessors. Cooper sued and won his first round with the temporary ruling from the panel of judges.

“We need to put these partisan confirmation games behind us and get on with repealing House Bill 2, raising teacher pay and getting better jobs for North Carolinians,” Cooper said in a press release last week.

We agree. His picks for the 10 Cabinet posts under his charge are ready to get to work.

Of course, the legislature’s Republican leaders, Senate President pro tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, disagreed. In a statement, they said, “Three Superior Court judges (have) attempted to dictate to the legislature when it could or could not hold committee meetings and what it could or could not consider in those meetings. Their decision to legislate from the bench will have profound consequences, and they should immediately reconvene their panel and reverse their order.”

Surely they’ll get right on that.

The judges didn’t ask for this case, as Rick Glazier, the executive director of the N.C. Justice Center, told the Journal. “These judges are just doing their duty. They came to a unanimous, bipartisan decision on issuing the temporary restraining order.”

The matter should be settled in March, and we’ll go on from there.

This is just common sense. The legislature can’t dole out, then revoke, the governor’s powers according to whether he’s a Democrat or a Republican. Voters elected Cooper expecting him to have the same powers McCrory had.

These kinds of arguments have contributed to the political division we experience today. The rules should be set, they should be fair and they should be applied consistently across the board, whether it’s Cabinet choices, legislative district boundaries or the powers afforded elected officers. This kind of political maneuvering, from either side, undermines the will of the voters.

North Carolinians are best served when members of both parties work together, not when one party — either party — overplays its hand to attain and maintain power.

Category: NC SPIN Perspectives - Opinions from NC Leaders & Organizations

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