In case you missed it this morning, another major newspaper editorial urged the North Carolina Senate to eighty-six its unprecedented, unconstitutional and transparently partisan scheme to force Governor Cooper’s cabinet secretaries run the gauntlet of confirmation hearings. Here’s the conclusion to the editorial entitled “Unnecessary fight” from today’s Greensboro News & Record:
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, whom Cooper had defeated in November and who was leaving office in a matter of days, called the measure [enacting the confirmation scheme] “wrong and short-sighted.” Yet, he signed it into law anyway. Cooper sued, claiming a different reading of the constitution. The case is scheduled to be argued in court next week.
In the meantime, the Senate established a confirmation process, first calling Larry Hall, whom Cooper chose to lead the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs. Hall did not attend a confirmation hearing. And then another, and another. Cooper said the process should wait until the legal dispute is settled.
He has support from a panel of judges who considered granting a preliminary injunction halting the confirmation law but declined — not on the merits of the case but because there wasn’t any need. The judges noted that, according to the law, the confirmation process doesn’t begin until the governor formally submits the names of his nominees to the president of the Senate. Cooper had not done so. Hall and his other selections were serving as “acting” agency heads for the time being. Furthermore, the judges said that, by statute, the governor has until May 15 to submit his names.
In the face of these findings, the Senate was premature to schedule hearings and certainly to demand Hall’s presence. Last week, Cooper’s lawyers went back to court seeking to quash the subpoena.
Going to court is becoming standard operating procedure in North Carolina.
“Believe me, this is not how we want this to go,” Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said last week.
Perhaps not. Maybe Berger expected Cooper to surrender. Instead, both sides are locked in an unnecessary fight started for a petty purpose — to bring a Democratic governor to heel before he could even get his administration started.
Democratic legislatures did not require confirmation hearings for leaders appointed by past Republican governors. The Republican legislature did not require it of McCrory.
Picking a fight for purely partisan reasons does nothing to help the people of North Carolina. The Senate should repeal this “wrong and short-sighted” measure.