Courts & the Law, News

Three-judge panel denies Gov. Cooper’s request to halt elections, ethics merger pending appeal

A three-judge panel has denied Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to halt a law that merges the State Board of Elections and State Ethics Commission pending his appeal.

The panel dismissed Cooper’s second lawsuit over the law about two weeks ago. He filed a notice of appeal on June 6 and a request to stay the merge pending that appeal.

The judges’ order denying his request does not state a reason, only that they reviewed case documents and other matters of record before coming to their conclusion. You can read the order here.

In his request for the stay, Cooper cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in North Carolina v. Covington — affirming unconstitutional racially gerrymandered legislative districts — as a demonstration of the importance of a stay.

“As to the first ruling, the United States Supreme Court has now summarily affirmed that Defendants were elected as a result of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering,” the document states. “As detailed above, since the complaint in this case was filed, the United States Supreme Court has twice ruled that Defendants engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering.

In light of Defendants’ inability, or unwillingness, to comply with federal and state law relating to voting rights, this Court should stay the effectiveness of the Act until an appellate court can rule on the constitutionality of the challenged statute. At least in the area of elections law and voting rights, recent history has demonstrated that Defendants’ enactments must be carefully scrutinized and squared with the federal and state constitutions.”

The same three-judge panel ruled in Cooper’s favor in his first lawsuit over the merge, but instead of appealing, lawmakers re-wrote the law and passed a similar bill, Senate Bill 68, creating a new “bipartisan” board that combines the duties of the Board of Elections and Ethics Commission.

Neither Cooper nor legislative leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, have commented about the judges’ denial of the stay.

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