RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) – All living former North Carolina governors unified on Monday to protest two power-shifting constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly for the November ballot.
If passed, the two amendments would transfer power of appointment from the governor to the state’s legislative branch.
Former Governors Mike Easley, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue crossed party lines this morning to assemble at the old State Capitol Building in Raleigh for a press conference centered around their collective opposition to two of the six proposed ballot questions in the referendum.
One of the contested amendments combines the Board of Elections and Ethics Committee, and gives appointment authority to the Legislature over about 350 boards and commissions.
Through the other amendment, the General Assembly aims to implement a “nonpartisan merit-based system that relies on professional qualifications instead of political influence when nominating justices and judges to be selected to fill vacancies that occur between judicial elections,” according to Senate Bill 814.
Governor Roy Cooper fired back on Aug. 4 with a lawsuit against the Legislature, saying the proposed amendments would essentially rewrite the Separation of Powers Clause of the North Carolina Constitution.
Representatives for Cooper have not responded to a request for comment, but the group Democracy NC has said that passage of the amendments would tip a fundamental balance of historically shared power between the Legislature and the governor.
“What we are seeing is that these amendments are clearly meant to alter the power that exists in terms of structure,” Tomas Lopez, executive director of Democracy NC, said in an interview.
“It is our view that these proposals are designed to entrench majority power,” Lopez added. “In the future — no matter who is in power — one majority will have huge control.”
Lopez also said the language included in the proposed amendments would mislead voters.
According to a report by the Associated Press, GOP lawmakers advocate that the amendments would serve to clarify appointment authority held by the Legislature, and would result in more transparency in filling vacant judgeships.
This shift in control could impact a plethora of issues ranging from the political makeup of courts to energy regulation.