Commentary, Defending Democracy

The best editorial of the weekend: This Supreme Court ruling was a “no-brainer”

The Winston-Salem Journal was on the money over the weekend with its assessment of the recent state Supreme Court ruling striking down the General Assembly’s heavy-handed power grab vis a vis the State Board of Elections. This is from the editorial:

“Kudos to the state Supreme Court for striking down an attempt by the Republican legislature to revamp the state elections board, part of a legislative movement to weaken gubernatorial powers after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory lost his seat to Democrat Roy Cooper in 2016.

Shortly after McCrory’s loss, Republicans rushed through legislation altering the make-up of election boards on the state and county levels and limiting the governor’s ability to appoint members, a power that the governor’s office had possessed for decades before Cooper’s election. The make-up of these election boards could influence voting hours and poll locations in this year’s elections.

Especially onerous was the legislature’s requirement that election boards be composed of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans — a recipe for gridlock and stalemate.

‘In a 4-3 ruling that breaks down along the court’s partisan lines, the justices found that a law passed in 2017 that merged the state Board of Elections with the state Ethics Commission and limited Cooper’s power to appoint a majority of its members violated the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause,’ the N&O reported….

Voting rights advocates embraced the decision from the state’s highest court.

‘Today’s ruling rejects a law that amounted to an unlawful power grab by the North Carolina General Assembly,’ said Tomas Lopez, the director of Democracy NC. ‘The public deserves a political system that respects its will. We welcome this decision and are hopeful that it will dissuade our leaders from future attempts to entrench their power.’

He’s right. The legislature’s heavy-handed legislation was not fair to the governor or fair to the voters, who elected Cooper expecting him to have the same powers and responsibilities as his predecessor.

In fact, it’s a no-brainer. The legislature, regardless of which party controls it, shouldn’t have the right to subtract gubernatorial powers if its party’s candidate loses.”

Amen to that. Click here to read the entire editorial.

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