Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NC Supreme Court Restores Old Election Commission Pending Further Litigation

This puts on hold the move of the Republican Legislature to deprive the new Democratic Governor’s Party, a Majority on the State and Local Election Boards.

The new Rules, on hold, also gave Republicans the Chair of new Bipartisan Boards in even years, when Presidential, Senate, and Congressional Elections all take place.

This likely only was put on hold thanks to the fact that Democrats took back Control of the State Supreme Court in the last Election as well.

The Court's decision, announced in an Order released Monday, is the latest Legal twist in a power struggle between Gov. Cooper and the Republicans who control both General Assembly Chambers.

Cooper sued Phil Berger, the leader of the State Senate, and Tim Moore, the State House of Representatives Speaker, over a December law that called for the merger of the five-member Elections Board and the State Ethics Commission, which Administers Ethics Laws governing Lobbyists, Elected officials, and Government employees.

At issue is whether the General Assembly overstepped its State Constitutional authority when it adopted a Law that establishes an eight-member Board to oversee Elections in the State and consider Ethics complaints and issues. The Governor would appoint four Members and Legislative Leaders would appoint the other four, with the Board split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

That changed the setup that had been in place before Cooper unseated Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican who signed off on the new Law in the waning days of his Administration.

Previously, the Governor had the power to appoint all five members to the State Elections Board, three from his Party and two from the other Major Political Party based on recommendations from that Party.

Cooper filed a Lawsuit in December, several days before taking the Oath of Office, challenging the Law adopted by the General Assembly in a special Session held weeks after the Democrat was Elected.

Attorneys for Cooper have argued that the Special-Session Law violates the Separation of Powers provided for in the State Constitution and gives Legislators more Control over the Executive-Branch function of Administering Elections. Cooper's Attorneys also have argued that having an Eight-Member Board that cannot act without a Supermajority would paralyze decision making.

The State Supreme Court order reversed a State Court of Appeals decision last week that temporarily lifted a decision by three Superior Court Judges to stop the change before the Governor's lawsuit is decided.

North Carolina remains in a State of ambiguity about Elections this year while several Lawsuits await resolution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will review a Federal Court Ruling last year that found that Racial Gerrymandering was used to draw State Legislative Districts. The three Federal Judges who issued that Ruling ordered the Redrawing of Legislative District Maps by March and Elections in any of the new Districts this year.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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