NC lawmakers fume as court order prevents confirmation hearings

Larry Hall

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Confirmation hearings for Gov. Roy Cooper’s cabinet appointees were supposed to begin Wednesday morning, but the governor’s court fight against Republican lawmakers’ efforts to limit his power has put that on hold.

A ruling in the court case forestalled Wednesday’s hearings, sparking outrage from the North Carolina Republicans.

“The attempt by the three-judge panel to stop today’s proceeding is unprecedented,” said state Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland County).

Meredith is the co-chairman of the Senate committee that was supposed to hold the first confirmation hearing for Cooper’s cabinet appointees.

State Rep. Larry Hall, Cooper’s choice for state Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs, was set for the first hearing Wednesday.

Judges issued a temporary restraining order, saying the confirmation hearings can’t be held yet. Republicans met anyway Wednesday morning. Hall didn’t show. Instead, he was down the street, attending a veterans’ ceremony at the Old Capitol with Cooper.

“We ought to do everything we can to give the people the confidence that our state leaders will be accountable to them,” Meredith said.

Republicans in the General Assembly maintain the state constitution gives them the power to review nominees. They passed a law requiring the hearings right before Cooper, a Democrat, took office.

Democrats say this has never been done before and challenge the validity of the new law.

Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham County) said Republicans’ decision to meet despite the restraining order was ridiculous.

“IT was an absolute charade to even hold this meeting today,” he said. “The court yesterday basically said this meeting could not go forward.”

Meredith vowed lawmakers will be back to hold the hearing. Republican leaders said the judges are legislating from the bench. Their decision will have profound consequences, Republican warned.

Cooper said he hoped not.

“The court was absolutely correct in its ruling, and the court should not be intimidated,” he said.

Another hearing is set for Friday.

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