Five NC former governors file court brief supporting Cooper in lawsuit against General Assembly

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- The five living former governors of North Carolina are filing a brief supporting current Gov. Roy Cooper's lawsuit against the Republican-led General Assembly, and demand that two proposed constitutional amendments be removed from the November ballot.

The brief, submitted to a court Tuesday in Wake County, is the first concrete step taken by the ex-governors after announcing their historic campaign against the amendments. The governors - Jim Hunt (D), Jim Martin (R), Mike Easley (D), Bev Purdue (D) and Pat McCrory (R) - held a joint news conference Monday at the State Capitol where they blasted the proposed amendments as attacks on the separation of powers.

If approved by voters in November, the amendments could shift several powers from the Executive to the Legislative branch of government, including the appointments of judges and some commissions.

The 14-page brief echoes several of the arguments made by the former governors in their news conference, including accusations that the General Assembly "brushes aside" the constitution in its current form and "proposes to eliminate and weaken longstanding checks on legislative power."

The arguments made in the brief also mirror those made by Cooper, a Democrat, who is challenging the very wording of the questions that would appear on the ballot.

"Although the General Assembly is able to propose new forms of government to the people," the brief explains, "such fundamental, startling changes as those proposed here must be fully and clearly stated. These ballot questions do not approach that statement; on the contrary, these ballot questions mislead the voters."

North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) earlier announced they "respectfully disagree" with the governors" and said, "it's not surprising former governors oppose checks and balances on the unilateral authority to their office."

The first hearing is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday.