Republican Lawmakers Blast Judges' Ruling On Confirmation Hearings

Feb 8, 2017

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Credit NC General Assembly

Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger are blasting a three-judge panel's granting of a temporary restraining order blocking the senate from proceeding with confirmation hearings on Governor Roy Cooper's cabinet nominees.

"In a gross misreading of the Constitution and a blatant overstep of their constitutional authority, three Superior Court judges 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," Moore and Berger said in the joint statement.

Moore and Berger call the restraining order an "unprecedented" move that "would be like the legislature telling a judge what jurors to pick to decide a case."

"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," they said.

A senate committee hearing on Larry Hall, the governor's pick for Secretary of Military and Veteran's Affairs, was scheduled for today but may not proceed under the temporary restraining order.

Cooper responded with a statement Wednesday morning.

“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. "The court is absolutely correct in their decision and should not be intimidated by threats from legislative leaders."

On Friday, the three-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court will hear arguments on a permanent injunction. The judges must determine whether any confirmation hearings should be put off until a ruling on the governor's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 17. That law, passed in December by the Republican-led legislature just before Cooper took office, gave the senate authority to confirm gubernatorial cabinet selections. Hearings on the lawsuit are scheduled for March.