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NC judge cites ‘risk to free and fair elections,’ orders temporary halt to Republican power grab

Republicans in North Carolina introduced a bill that was a shocking and unprecedented power grab, attempting to strip power from incoming Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper:

The legislation proposed by Republicans would reduce the number of state government employees Cooper can hire and fire at will from 1,500 to 300, strip the governor of the power to appoint trustees to the University of North Carolina and give it to the General Assembly, and require Senate confirmation for Cabinet appointments. Another proposal would shift control of one state office from the governor to the lieutenant governor — who will still be a Republican next year.

That proposal from the Republican-led legislature combined with extreme gerrymandering led some political experts to note that North Carolina could no longer be classified as a functioning democracy.

Cooper had no choice but to sue. Thus far, the judge is siding with the incoming Democrat who won the state by more than 10,000 votes:

A North Carolina judge is temporarily blocking a new Republican-backed law that strips the incoming Democratic governor of his control over election boards just before he takes office.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens ruled Friday that the risk to free and fair elections justified stopping the law from taking effect this weekend until it could be reviewed more closely. Stephens plans to review the law Thursday.

Gov.-elect. Roy Cooper sued on Friday to block the law, passed two weeks ago. It ends the control governors exert over statewide and county election boards. The lawsuit says the Republican-led General Assembly’s action is unconstitutional because it violates separation of powers by giving legislators too much control over how election laws are administered.

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