RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — Republican legislators in North Carolina have refused to hold a special session demanded by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to redraw General Assembly districts, saying his proclamation is faulty and unconstitutional.
House Republicans on Thursday upheld a ruling by Speaker Tim Moore that the “extra session” was unnecessary and invalid, in part because lawmakers already are in their annual work session. That means the Thursday afternoon session Cooper wanted won’t occur. Senate Republicans rejected the special session idea as well later Thursday.
Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Elections, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), issued a statement via President Pro Tempore Sen. Phil Berger’s office calling the extra session a “political stunt” and “unconstitutional.”
Despite all his talk about separation of powers, it’s clear Roy Cooper wants to be North Carolina’s governor, legislature, and with this latest stunt, its judiciary too.
The courts have yet to give the legislature direction on this matter, and we will be prepared to undertake a thorough redistricting process with ample notice and opportunities for public input when they do.
In the meantime, we refuse to be manipulated by the governor into having an unconstitutional special session and will keep our focus on passing a balanced state budget that raises teacher pay, provides relief to the communities affected by Hurricane Matthew and puts money back into the pockets of middle-class families.”
Cooper is trying to force the hand of GOP legislators to quickly redraw nearly 30 House and Senate districts after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week upholding a lower court decision striking down the lines as illegal racial gerrymanders.
Gov. Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter, released a statement in response to the Legislature’s decision to cancel the special session:
Now the Republican legislature is thumbing its nose at the North Carolina Constitution as well as the US Supreme Court. 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.”
Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue also released a statement critical of the General Assembly’s decision to refuse the special session.
The Supreme Court has issued its decision. The courts have spoken – unanimously – on this issue.
We have been operating under unconstitutional legislative maps for the past five years. For Republicans to suggest that this issue is not extraordinary is to show contempt for the US Supreme Court, the district courts and the North Carolina voters.
Republicans can try to delay justice, but they cannot ignore it.”