Courts & the Law, News

After letter to Berger, Cooper takes to the courts to try to stop Senate confirmation hearings

Arguments will be presented this afternoon in Wake County Superior Court about whether to postpone Senate confirmation hearings scheduled for Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointees.

Cooper’s legal team filed a motion Monday evening requesting a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the hearings until the courts determine if they are constitutional.

A lawsuit over House Bill 17, which strips Cooper of some powers and appointments, is pending before a three-judge panel.

Hearings are set to take place beginning Wednesday with former Rep. Larry Hall, who was appointed to become secretary of the state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs. Cooper wrote a letter Monday to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger asking him to pause the process because of the pending litigation.

The letter was an attempt, Cooper’s office said, to try to resolve the matter without resorting to the courts.

Berger has not responded to a request for comment but told the News and Observer that it was “extremely disturbing” that Cooper wanted to keep the vetting process “hidden behind closed doors and out of the public eye.”

The motion Cooper’s legal team filed states that if the court does not postpone the hearings, it allows the Senate to “unconstitutionally exert control over the implementation of executive policy — by
approving or disapproving of the Governor’s appointed heads of principal departments — thus
preventing the Governor from complying with his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are
faithfully executed.”

“The Governor and his staff spent months identifying and recruiting experienced, effective leaders with the subject-matter expertise to run a principal department in accordance with the Governor’s policy priorities and goals,” the motion states. “The Advice and Consent Amendment would render that work meaningless, instead requiring the Governor to appoint principal department heads who will mollify the Senate.”

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