Republicans to ignore Cooper's call for special session

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Republicans refused to follow the governor's order for a special session (WTVD)

It was called a special session, but there can't be anything special about a session that never commenced.

Republican legislators on Thursday refused to hold a special session demanded by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to redraw General Assembly districts, calling his proclamation unconstitutional.
RELATED: Cooper calls for special session to redraw district voting maps

"The governor has never had a role in redistricting," Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett County), the House Rules Chairman, asserted to ABC11. "The court has not told us what they want us to fix in the maps yet. They haven't provided what's called the mandate or the court order yet."

In his proclamation delivered on Wednesday, the governor hoped to push GOP legislators to swiftly redraw nearly 30 House and Senate districts after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upheld a lower court decision striking down the lines as illegal racial gerrymanders.

"I feel confident that they've already drawn these maps," Cooper told ABC11. "They know that's been going on. They know this has been a problem."
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Democrats in the General Assembly echoed that sentiment.

"We've been living with these illegally drawn districts for years," Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) lamented to ABC11. "How much longer should we wait? The Supreme Court has spoken - let's get them redrawn."

When it came time for the clerk to read the governor's proclamation, thereby making the session viable, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) ruled that the "extra session" was unnecessary and invalid, in part because lawmakers already are in their annual work session. Moore's action, thus, prevented the reading of the proclamation, and thus the special session never had to be gaveled in.

"Governor Cooper has no constitutional role in redistricting and his latest political stunt is an effort to deter House lawmakers from our work on a bipartisan budget that received support from both parties," Moore said in a statement.

Now the Republican legislature is thumbing its nose at the North Carolina Constitution as well as the US Supreme Court," said Ford Porter, Governor Cooper's spokesman. "It's troubling that they prefer to fight about the process rather than draw the new map that North Carolina voters deserve to level the playing field of our democracy. The US Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision and there is no reason to delay the drawing of new maps."

Republicans countered that they will absolutely heed the court order and redraw the districts, but only when the court - not the governor - issues a mandate.

"We need to go through a process of seeking public input," Senate President Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) told ABC11. "We need to see copies of maps that other folks have drawn to see if they comply with the law."

RELATED: Cooper, legislature likely to 'end up back in court'
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