The State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission merger has once again been put on hold, this time by the North Carolina’s highest court.
The state Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of a Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a lower court’s preliminary injunction on the first part of Senate Bill 4. Gov. Roy Cooper had filed the emergency motion for a temporary stay.
The first part of Senate Bill 4, which was passed by GOP legislators during a special session in December, eliminates the current State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission and merges their powers and duties into one new “bipartisan” Board.
Cooper is challenging the constitutionality of the law in court.
A trial is set to take place in March 7 before the three-judge panel that issued a preliminary injunction halting the merger until the conclusion of the case.
Attorneys for defendants Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore had appealed their preliminary injunction and a separate three-judge panel with the state Court of Appeals overturned it, permitting the merger to proceed.
The three appellate judges’ names have not yet been released, despite the fact that Berger’s son, Phil Berger Jr., sits on the bench. It’s unknown if he was on the panel that overturned the preliminary injunction.
In addition to the temporary stay, Cooper’s attorneys also filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court asking it to review and vacate the Court of Appeals ruling altogether. The court has not yet responded to that request.
The Supreme Court cannot take on the entire case until it works its way through Superior Court.