Friday, January 06, 2017

The Latest on the State Board of Elections

You'll recall that S 4, passed in another Special Session (#4) of the NC General Assembly on December 15, completely rewrote the State Board of Elections so that the Republican bosses in the GA got to appoint half the members of an expanded board that folded in the old Ethics Commission (now headed by Pat McCrory's lawyer from his election protests). S 4 gave the appointment of half of the Democratic members of the new board to Phil Berger and Tim Moore, and would have put a Republican chair in control of elections in even-numbered years. Among other stuff.

You'll also recall that the implementation of S 4, which was supposed to go into effect on January 1, was stayed by Judge Donald Stephens of Wake Superior Court. Stephens' injunction was set to run out this coming Monday, and he set a hearing on the constitutionality of S 4.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin took the case away from Stephens and assigned it to a three-judge panel (mandated in new legislation by Berger-Moore, incidentally). That panel heard arguments yesterday from lawyers for Governor Roy Cooper on one side and lawyers for Darth Vader and the Grand Moff Tarkin on the other side.

Wish I could have been at that hearing. Reporter Anne Blythe recorded some key bits of colloquy between the Berger-Moore side and the judges:
[Judge] Caldwell asked Noah Huffstetler, a Raleigh-based attorney representing Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Tim Moore, speaker of the state House, if he knew why the law to revamp the elections board was adopted in a special session without public hearings on the matter or a study commission to develop cost analyses.
“Do you have any information why this is so compelling to be brought up in an emergency session?” Caldwell asked.
Huffstetler said he could not comment on the legislators’ intent. He added that he did not think their reasons for crafting and adopting the law should be considered by the judges. The question before the judges, Huffstetler argued, was whether the law violated the separation of powers clause in the state Constitution as Cooper’s attorneys argued. [Indeed, that is one of the questions.]
Best part: The Berger-Moore lawyers "tried to persuade the three-judge panel that the special session law maintained the status quo."

With the merger of the Elections and the Ethics boards into a single body, “You’re not suggesting that all that will be happening is a new sign will be put up?” Judge Campbell asked.

Anne Blythe reported: "The lawmakers’ attorneys responded that, indeed, that was what they contended the special-session law does."

[Put this shit into a movie and people would take it for a comedy.]

The Upshot: Cooper won, at least temporarily. Late last night the judges sent word to all the lawyers that the temporary injunction staying the law is continued until the constitutional issues are fully adjudicated, and they directed Gov. Cooper's lawyer to write the order for the new injunction.


Nrorie said...

You"d think that Berger, Moore et al would someday learn!

Anonymous said...

No they'll never learn because they are hell-bent on institutionalizing their power.

Their claims of simply maintaining the status quo are downright laughable. That this isn't a significant change, as if the very appointment process and ultimate membership on the elections board is a minor detail - these people have lost their grip on reality.

Anonymous said...

No they haven't lost their grip on reality. They simply expect the rest of us to swallow their bogus claims as if we don't have any bullshit radar to see through their bullshit claims. While they believe they can rewrite history, and they succeed in some corners, the majority in this heat state saw bullshit McCrory exactly for what he was.

Anonymous said...

That would be great state. Although things are certainly heated as well.