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Republicans set conditions for Democrats who requested speakers at judicial reform meeting

Senators Dan Bishop, Warren Daniel and Bill Rabon

The Republican lawmakers who head up a committee on judicial reform and redistricting have responded to Democrats’ recent request for certain speakers with their own set of demands.

Senators Terry Van Duyn, Floyd McKissick, Joel Ford and Jay Chaudhuri wrote a letter last week [1] asking for seven speakers to appear at the Jan. 3 meeting “to hear from different perspectives and viewpoints.”

Committee chairmen Senators Dan Bishop, Warren Daniel and Bill Rabon, all Republicans, responded with two conditions that Democrats must meet before speakers who agree to appear can participate.

“One, you secure the Governor’s commitment to testify or send his General Counsel to share and answer questions about his views on judicial selection and redistricting, at the same meeting,” their letter states. “Two, you commit in writing by tomorrow to stay for the whole meeting and to offer a proposed map fixing the current unconstitutional judicial districts and your recommended changes, if any, to the judicial selection process, at the same meeting. We also will enter into the record the prepared speech of retired Judge [Don] Stephens, from whom in retrospect we should have heard on December 13.”

Gov. Roy Cooper sent Stephens to the last meeting to speak for him and the committee chairmen denied him a chance to participate because he did not work for the Executive Branch. Democrats protested by leaving the meeting early.

It was not immediately clear how Democratic senators responded to the letter, but a spokesperson said in an email that some of the conditions could not reasonably be met.

“Regardless of the terms of these conditions, it struck us that requests for information by committee members should not be conditional,” wrote Leslie Rudd, communications director for Sen. Dan Blue’s office.