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The Latest: Judges hear arguments in special session lawsuit

February 21, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a court hearing about litigation challenging the constitutionality of a 2016 special session of the North Carolina General Assembly (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

A panel of state judges has heard arguments over litigation challenging a December 2016 session of the North Carolina General Assembly where laws were approved that weakened incoming Gov. Roy Cooper.

A government reform group and several voters want the work performed during the special session voided because lawmakers didn’t give adequate notice of the meeting and the chance for citizens to “instruct their representatives.” That phrasing is in the state constitution.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the judges questioned the plaintiffs’ attorney about how much advance notice was needed to be lawful. But lawyer Burton Craige said that didn’t matter in this extreme case — there was only two hours between the announcement and the session’s opening.

Attorneys for the state told the judges that lawmakers followed the rules in convening the session.

The panel didn’t immediately rule from the bench when almost two hours of arguments ended.

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6:05 a.m.

A legal challenge of a special session called by Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly to pass laws that eroded Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s powers is going to trial.

Three judges scheduled arguments Wednesday from lawyers for a government reform group and state residents who argue the December 2016 session was illegal. Lawyers for the state and the legislative leaders who got sued disagree.

The session occurred just weeks before Cooper took office and shortly after he narrowly beat GOP Gov. Pat McCrory. The lawsuit challenges the process that set up the special session and by which it was held. They want two wide-ranging laws passed during the session voided.

The trial should last only an afternoon. The judges said previously they would aim for a quick ruling.

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