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Judges temporarily block law restricting authority of N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper

A three-judge panel has temporarily blocked legislation restricting the governor’s authority and requiring Senate confirmation hearings for his appointees — now six weeks into N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration.

“The immediate and irreparable harm caused by the challenged legislation outweighs any possible harm in preserving the status quo prior to the challenged legislation being implemented,” the judges’ Wednesday decision said.

Cooper, whose appointees were scheduled by the N.C. General Assembly to appear for confirmation hearings beginning this week, said he agreed with the decision. 

“We need to put these partisan confirmation games behind us and get on with repealing HB2, raising teacher pay and getting better jobs for North Carolinians," Cooper said in a statement. "The court is absolutely correct in their decision and should not be intimidated by threats from legislative leaders."

Cooper's first appointee, Durham Democrat Larry Hall, was scheduled for a confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

“Despite the pending lawsuit and despite my request for delay until the lawsuit is decided, the Senate has scheduled my appointees to appear for confirmation hearings beginning this Wednesday, Feb. 8,” Cooper said in a press release Monday.

The panel concluded it was necessary to consider House Bill 17 — which was passed in the legislature’s December special session — holistically.

“It is not possible, at this time, for the Court to identify and excise particular provisions of Part III of House Bill 17 likely to be unconstitutional while allowing other portions of Part III of the challenged legislation to take effect,” the decision said.

N.C. Speaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, released a joint statement Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, on the court’s decision, calling it a misreading of the U.S. Constitution.

“Judges are not legislators and if these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat,” the legislators said in the statement. “Their decision to legislate from the bench will have profound consequences, and they should immediately reconvene their panel and reverse their order.”

The three-judge panel will likely hear the motion for a preliminary injunction Friday.

“Unless Defendants consent to an extension of this temporary restraining order, Governor-elect Cooper’s motion for preliminary injunction shall be heard before the undersigned three-judge panel within 10 days from the date of this order,” the decision said.

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