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Three-judge panel to hear more Cooper v. Berger challenges today

Attorneys for Gov. Roy Cooper and GOP legislative leaders will be back in state court today.

A three-judge panel will take up motions to dispose of two issues [1] in the separation of powers case, Cooper v. Berger. The first issue involves House Bill 239 [2], a measure that reduced the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, and the second involves a voucher mandate in the budget bill, Senate Bill 257 [3].

Cooper argues that Section 1 of HB239 purports to shorten three appellate judicial terms to fewer than eight years. He asks the court to declare it unconstitutional and therefore “void and of no effect.”

The rest of that bill deals with different types of appeals and court workload.

As for the voucher mandate, Cooper argues that it’s unconstitutional because the General Assembly mandated what he could include in his base budget.

“By mandating what the Governor must include in his proposed budget, the General Assembly is exercising core executive power in violation of separation of powers,” the complaint states.

The three-judge panel designated to hear the challenges are Judges Henry Hight, a registered Democrat who serves Franklin, Granville, Vance, and Warren counties; Jay Hockenbury, a registered Republican serving New Hanover County; and Nathaniel Poovey, a registered Republican serving Catawba County.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. and will be held in Courtroom 303 at Campbell University School of Law.