While many people were worried about whether there would be a court-packing plan for the NC Supreme Court (about to have a majority of Democratic members) in the special session on disaster relief that NC Governor Pat McCrory had called, it seems that NC GOP legislative leaders had a different trick up their sleeve: they have called a special session to start now at the end of the session called by the governor, and the plan seems to be to propose measures to cut the power of the incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.
Among the bills that have now been filed is one that would move from giving the state board of elections and county election boards a majority of seats for the sitting governor, to one which would make the sessions be evenly divided on a bipartisan basis. So a partisan advantage was good enough when there was a Republican governor, but no longer.
In the meantime, NC Democrats are claiming that the call for the special session was itself unconstitutional, potentially rendering any bills from the session invalid.
And here’s the kicker: any lawsuit over these alleged rules will end up before the state Supreme Court with its new Democratic majority, unless the special session itself produces a court-packing plan, and if that happens the Court itself would have to resolve a key question about its own membership.
Democratic representative Darren Jackson on the special session: ““This is why people don’t trust us. This is why they hate us.”
It is much, much worse than it looks now that the bill is posted. The Democratic party appointees to the election board would chair in odd numbered years, and the Republican party appointees would chair in even numbered years (see page 4 of the bill), meaning that they would chair in each of the years in which there are legislative, congressional, and presidential elections.
The state supreme court would be limited in reviewing state constitutional and federal challenges, giving the power instead first to an en banc panel of intermediate appellate court judges (who of course are Republican majority) and limiting appeals as of right (see from pages 20 on in the bill).
If the bill passes in this form, I could see potential Voting Rights Act and federal constitutional challenges here, in part because the legislature would potentially be diluting minority voting power and making minority voters worse off, just at the time that their candidate of choice (Gov. Cooper) is poised to assume power.