Republicans say they’re ending appeals in ballot cases
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republican legislative leaders have stopped fighting litigation addressing proposed constitutional amendments and partisan labels for a few judicial candidates for this fall’s ballots.
Key GOP lawmakers say paperwork is in to end appeals of two lower court rulings they lost. But Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t given up trying to block a pair of retooled amendments that, if approved by voters in November, would shift powers over the state elections board and filling judicial vacancies from the governor to the legislative branch. His attorneys filed a new request late Tuesday to keep the questions off the ballot.
Republican leaders announced Tuesday they have stopped trying to overturn a lower court ruling halting enforcement of a law removing party designations next to names of judicial candidates who switched affiliations close to filing. The state Court of Appeals declined Monday to hear their request to block the order.
The decision means state Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin will run with a GOP designation next to his name on the ballot. The legislature had passed a law last month that would have left off any affiliation because he was a registered Democrat three weeks before filing. Anglin, Republican incumbent Barbara Jackson and Democrat Anita Earls are running for the same seat.
The Court of Appeals also accepted a GOP withdrawal motion in a case Tuesday where judges stopped referendums for two earlier versions of the constitutional amendments because the questions weren’t clear enough. Republicans say the legislature finalized Monday new amendments and referendums that comply with the ruling. Cooper and interest groups challenged the earlier amendments.
GOP Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County and Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County said in a release that they still believe both lower court decisions were incorrect, but ending appeals will help absentee ballot preparations pick up again.
Late Tuesday, Cooper’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to prevent the new amendment questions from going on the ballot, too. They “are neither fair nor accurate. They are instead misleading and incomplete. These ballot questions therefore violate the North Carolina Constitution,” Cooper lawyer John Wester wrote in a petition.