It’s unclear what the practical effect of this step will be. Ordinarily, a plaintiff withdrawing from a lawsuit would leave the lower court ruling in place. However, in North Carolina, General Assembly leaders have the ability to defend lawsuits on behalf of the state.
A spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Bergernoted that Cooper and Stein aren’t the clients of the outside attorneys, so they cannot fire them, and the attorneys will continue representing the state.
“Roy Cooper’s and Josh Stein’s desperate and politically motivated stunt to derail North Carolina’s voter ID law is not only illegal, it also raises serious questions about whether they’ve allowed their own personal and political prejudices and conflicts of interest to cloud their professional judgment,” Berger and House Speaker Tim Mooresaid in a joint statement.
The State Board of Elections also remains a defendant in the case, but a spokesman for the agency could say only that lawyers for the board are reviewing the matter.
I’ve gone into the morass before trying to figure out who can control NC litigation in these circumstances and I will have to leave this to NC law gurus. It may end up having to be sorted out in state courts.
In the meantime, if the case is not formally withdrawn soon, I’d bet some good money that the four conservative Justices, expecting a Justice Gorsuch, will vote to grant cert.