Courts & the Law, News

Another day, another bill introduced to change governor’s judicial appointment powers

Sen. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly) has introduced another bill taking aim at Gov. Roy Cooper’s judicial appointment powers.

Cooper currently has the power to appoint anyone he sees fit to fill district attorney vacancies and vacancies on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Court.

House Bill 335 would change his power to require that he appoint from a list of three recommendations comprised by an executive committee of the political party with which the vacating member was affiliated when elected.

For example, if a Republican judge retires or resigns, a Republican executive committee would recommend three people to replace that judge. Cooper would be required to pick one of them.

Burr has already introduced two other bills that would strip Cooper of some judicial appointment power altogether. House Bill 240 takes his power to appoint District Court vacancies to the General Assembly. House Bill 241 takes his power to appoint to special Superior Court judgeships and also gives it to the General Assembly.

He also introduced House Bill 239 which would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, taking away Cooper’s power to fill vacancies over the next two years as three Republican judges face mandatory retirement.

House Bills 239, 240 and 241 have already passed the House along party lines and been referred to the Senate. On Tuesday, the body referred the three bills to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Burr has insisted the bills are not politically motivated despite never consulting with the courts and never being asked by stakeholders to propose the changes.

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