Judges halt confirmation hearings for Gov. Coopers cabinet nomiees

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
Senator Wesley Meredith

RALEIGH — A three-judge panel in N.C. temporarily has blocked lawmakers from holding confirmation hearings for nominees to Governor Roy Cooper’s cabinet, a ruling Republican lawmakers slammed as a “blatant overstep” of authority.At Cooper’s request, the judges held an emergency meeting and said in their order Tuesday evening that they will hear the governor’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the law on Friday. The law passed in December establishes confirmation hearings for cabinet posts, in keeping with the N.C. Constitution’s provision (section 5.8) that the governor appointees are made with the advice and consent of a majority of state senators. Republican leaders have said the changes were lawful and would serve as a check on executive power. Cooper said requiring Senate consent to his cabinet secretaries was unprecedented and unconstitutional. The temporary restraining order halted a hearing set for Wednesday to review former Rep. Larry Hall, Cooper’s appointee for secretary of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. A Democrat, Hall served in the N.C. House as minority leader before being tapped to join Cooper’s cabinet. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, said the judges were legislating from the bench and called on them to reverse their order. “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,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “If these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat.” Cooper’s office could not be immediately reached for comment.