North Carolina Supreme Court hears fight between Governor Pat McCrory and legislative leaders

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Supreme Court heard a dispute between Governor Pat McCrory and Republican leaders in the General Assembly Tuesday morning.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) appealed to the high court after a three-judge panel in May sided with McCrory and two of his predecessors in ruling the General Assembly violated North Carolina's Constitution by creating three commissions for which several members are appointed by legislative leaders.

In court Tuesday, attorneys for McCrory and former governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt offered the justices very different interpretations on the legislature's limits in making appointments from the attorneys for the legislative leaders.

They said the case could change the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.

John Wester represented McCrory and the two former governors. Wester said the powers of the two branches are separate, so lawmakers cannot appoint people to commissions that perform executive duties.

John Culver spoke for Berger and Moore. Culver said lawmakers have inherent constitutional powers to make all kinds of executive branch appointments.

A ruling is likely months away.

The case deals with the the membership of the Coal Ash Management Commission, which is overseeing the closure of Duke Energy's coal ash dumps, and the membership of two other panels set to start up this summer - the Oil and Gas Commission and the state Mining Commission.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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