Commentary

Former GOP supreme court justice and candidate for governor rips General Assembly

Bob Orr

In case you missed it, one of North Carolina’s best known Republican politicians has had it with his fellow GOP’ers who preside over the General Assembly. In a scathing op-ed in the Charlotte Observer, former Republican Supreme Court justice and gubernatorial candidate Bob Orr lambastes the legislature for its many acts of malfeasance during the 2017 session. While he notes that agrees with many of lawmakers’ specific decisions, the repeated abuses of process are simply unacceptable.

Here’s the conclusion to his essay:

“Now, whether they’re cooking the books on redistricting or stripping the newly elected Democratic governor of appointments and powers, this group of Republicans simply doesn’t care what the opposition or anyone else thinks. It’s power politics – and if necessary, good government be damned. And that’s where this legislative session really bothers me. There were a number of good laws passed by the 2017 General Assembly and frankly, lots in the budget that was commendable. Sure, we can disagree on spending amounts or lack of spending for specific budget items, but overall the budget was, in fact, pretty good.

That said, the punitive nature of some of the provisions and the lack of fundamental good government process tarnished the result of this year’s session. The draconian stripping of Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein’s budget with no debate or discussion is simply unacceptable. This kind of hardball politics doesn’t just “punish” a political opponent but jeopardizes the critical work of the attorney general’s office. Stripping the Court of Appeals of three of its 15 judges in order to keep the governor from making appointments to replace retiring Republican judges is short-sighted and overtly politicizes the judiciary at a time when we need to be moving to de-politicize it. And merging the Ethics Commission and the Board of Elections might be a good idea, but the way it was done with no real discussion about the merits of the proposal flaunts the concept of good government.

I know and like a number of the Republican members of the General Assembly, and some I consider long-time friends. But their failure to stand up to these kinds of actions pushed strictly for partisan advantage and to punish elected officials and constituent groups that some Republicans don’t agree with is a major disappointment. We need good government and good people willing to do what is right, not just what is politically expedient. My fellow Republicans in the General Assembly can do better.”

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