Cooper does 180, wants AG office to defend state in H.B. 2 battle

Attorney General Roy Cooper addresses members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses during a luncheon June 1in honor of Small Business Day in Raleigh. (Madeline Gray/—North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Attorney General Roy Cooper, who in late March said he would not defend the state in a federal lawsuit over House Bill 2, reversed course Friday and filed a motion to represent North Carolina in the case.

As recently as Wednesday, Cooper’s Facebook page has been critical of H.B. 2, saying Gov. Pat McCrory should “put North Carolina first and repeal this discriminatory law.” Cooper, a Democrat, is set to face McCrory in the gubernatorial election this fall.

McCrory had been critical of Cooper’s unwillingness to defend the state, and in a press release Thursday said Cooper’s previous statements about H.B. 2 “contradict the legal filings” made Friday. McCrory’s office filed its own notice in federal court asking that his administration, not Cooper, defend the state in the lawsuit. In the attorney general office’s filing, Cooper called for Amar Majmundar to serve as special deputy attorney general for the case and also asked for a 44-day extension to prepare their defense case against the federal government.