Democrats Walk Out Of Statehouse Meeting After Cooper's Representative Turned Away

Democrats Walk Out Of Statehouse Meeting After Cooper's Representative Turned Away

5:21pm Dec 13, 2017
(Credit: W Edward Callis III/Wikimedia,

Democrats on a North Carolina legislative committee looking at potential changes to judicial election districts and the selection of judges walked out of a meeting Wednesday after a Republican committee leader declined to hear from a retired judge that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper sent to speak on his behalf.

The Senate panel had asked for a representative of Cooper's administration to attend its meeting to offer the governor's perspective on proposals being discussed. Cooper offered recently retired Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens. Committee co-chairman Sen. Dan Bishop said Stephens wouldn't speak because he wasn't part of the administration.

All the Democratic members left the committee room after some lodged their objections to Bishop's decision, saying other perspectives should be heard. Stephens is a critic of recent legislative actions. He said outside the room that he sees no reason for altering how judges are selected.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have gone to court to try to prevent a state law from going into effect that would eliminate primaries for judicial elections next spring.

The state Democratic Party and several county parties filed a lawsuit in Greensboro federal court Tuesday seeking to have the law approved in October declared unconstitutional. The litigation against GOP legislative leaders seeks action before candidate filing for nonjudicial races begin in February.

The lawsuit alleges that canceling the 2018 primaries for trial and appellate court judgeships violates the fundamental rights of association for parties to select their standard bearers.

GOP lawmakers said this fall the judicial primary cancellation would give them more time to study planned changes to judicial election districts early next year.

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