Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NC Supremes Reverse the Court of Appeals, Restore the Block on the Republican Takeover of the Board of Elections

Last night the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a late-last-week ruling by the NC Court of Appeals, thereby restoring a temporary hold on the implementation of the NCGOP's rewrite of all the boards of elections until a trial on the merits can be held on March 7.

To recap the background:

1. In Special Session # 4 of the NC General Assembly on December 15, immediately after Democrat Roy Cooper was declared the winner of the governor's race, the Republican bosses in the NCGA hatched a new law (Senate Bill 4) giving themselves the edge in dominating all the boards of elections in the state and took power away from the new governor.

2. The implementation of S4 was halted by Wake Superior Court Senior Judge Donald Stephens, but Republican Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, Mark Martin, "plucked" the case away from Judge Stephens and assigned it to a three-judge panel appointed by himself.

3. Surprise, followed by Republican gasps: The specially appointed three-judge panel ruled unanimously to keep Judge Stephens' temporary stay in place. It was not looking good for the Republican power-grab.

4. Last Thursday (Feb. 9), a three-judge panel of the NC Court of Appeals lifted Judge Stephens' injunction against implementation of S4. The identities of the three judges have not been revealed, and their names continue to be kept secret. That's mainly interesting because Republican Senate President Phil Berger is a defendant in the case, and Phil Berger's son Phil Berger Jr. is now a judge sitting on the NC Court of Appeals. Repeated attempts by news media to find out if Junior had any hand in lifting the injunction have been stonewalled.

5. But never mind ... because last night the NC Supreme Court took over the case, reinstated Judge Stephens' injunction against implementation and scheduled a full hearing on the matter for March 7.

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