RALEIGH – It seems like ages ago that Governor Roy Cooper took his first executive action on the coronavirus, mandating the closure of bars and restaurants. He did so without the concurrence of the Council of State, as required by law, and faced public criticism from Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and other Council members.
Yet, Cooper was undeterred, over the subsequent weeks repeatedly ignoring the legal role of the Council of State as he unilaterally decreed lockdown orders that nuked the economy.
So now, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, criticized by the Leftist press for daring to criticize the governor during a pandemic, plans on suing his administration to force him to follow the law.
From the Office of Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest:
“Today, I notified Governor Cooper that, as a member of the Council of State, I will be suing his administration for violating the Emergency Management Act. The Governor has repeatedly ignored the law, enacting mandates that selectively target the businesses and citizens of North Carolina without concurrence from a majority of the Council of State.
Before I officially file my suit, the Governor is required by law to approve the use of independent legal counsel. State agencies in North Carolina are required to use the Attorney General’s office to file lawsuits or else get an exception from the Governor. As the Attorney General has been responsible for drafting the unlawful Executive Orders I’m challenging, I have decided the only path forward is with independent counsel.”
It’s convenient for Cooper that the attorney general (a position Cooper held for 8 years) is there to provide initial cover. Josh Stein is the same attorney general that purposely spiked the Voter ID case on behalf of the NC legislature, because he doesn’t like the policy, instead of fulfilling his constitutional duty to represent the State of North Carolina in such suits.
Why would any Republican in their right mind rely on Stein as legal representation? They wouldn’t, which is why Forest is seeking an independent council to sue the Cooper administration. As Forest mentions in the statement, the governor must approve the use of independent counsel. Hopefully, Cooper actually follows the law. Anything to the contrary would be a seem to be an admission that he thinks he’s above such accountability to the law.
Governor Cooper announced Wednesday that he would be pausing the state’s reopening plan for at least three weeks, as well as announcing a statewide face mask requirement.
Republican leaders have blasted the governor for weeks for his overreaching executive orders that banned people from church service, closed businesses, and led to ridiculous local measures like arresting surfers for not social distancing. Still, there has been no serious effort from lawmakers to actually pass legislation reforming the NC Emergency Management Act such that it would limit further overreach by Cooper during this declared state of emergency.
Admittedly, though, without a veto-proof majority, the likelihood of passing such reforms into law are slim to none. We’ve seen that math play out a few times already with ‘reopen’ bills.
This, then, marks the first tangible action to hold Governor Roy Cooper accountable for violating the very law he leverages to mandate you cannot go to church, or open your store, or attend a Independence Day parade. It’s about time.
Forest, Cooper’s 2020 opponent for governor, is leading the charge. Perhaps constituents would support state lawmakers joining him to file a lawsuit of their own.
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