(CN) – North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly enacted a law Wednesday to shrink the state Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, despite Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s efforts to talk them out of such a move.
The state House and Senate voted to override Cooper’s veto to House Bill 239, barring him from replacing the next three judges to reach the mandatory retirement age of 72 during his gubernatorial term.
State Rep, Justin Burr, a Republican and one of the bill’s sponsors, called reducing the size of the court of appeals “good policy and an effective use of the taxpayers’ money.”
By keeping Cooper from appointing replacements for the next three vacancies — all Republican — GOP legislators continue to push in an ongoing power grab that has made North Carolina politics a hotbed of controversy over the past year.
One Court of Appeals member, Judge J. Douglas McCullough, resigned Monday in protest of his own party’s anticipated actions. McCullough was slated to reach the mandatory retirement age next month.
Cooper quickly replaced the outgoing judge with openly gay former appeals court judge John Arrowood, a Democrat. Arrowood’s appointment was seen as a slight victory for left-leaning constituents, especially in the wake of HB2.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals is the state’s second-highest court, and its judges each write more than 100 opinions every year.