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Cooper Fills Judicial Vacancies Just Days Before Midterm Election

Governor Cooper Twitter

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is making judicial appointments to the state superior court less than a week before an amendment challenging his power to do so goes before voters.

On Nov. 6, North Carolinians will vote on six potential amendments to the state constitution. All of the proposed amendments were written by the Republican-led General Assembly. Cooper, along with the NAACP, sued twice to keep four of the amendments off the ballot, arguing that they were written in a way that would mislead voters and moved too much power away from the executive branch to the legislature. The lawsuits were denied both times by the state Supreme Court.

One amendment would challenge the governor’s power to fill judicial vacancies by changing the appointment process. Currently, the governor has the authority to select a replacement judge without the input of the legislature. The amendment would give the General Assembly the power to form a commission to choose finalists to fill the vacancy. The governor would then have to choose from the finalists recommended by the legislature.

Cooper, joined by a bipartisan commission of the five living former governors, has vehemently opposed that amendment, and another one that challenges the governor’s ability to appoint members to the State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement.

Thursday afternoon, Cooper announced the appointment of Stephen Futrell as a Superior Court Judge in District 16A —which covers Anson, Scotland, Hoke and Richmond counties. He also appointed District Court Judge Peter Night as a Superior Court Judge in District 29B, to serve Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties. Both appointments fill vacancies created by former judges who retired last month, according to Cooper.

“Our state depends on experienced, dedicated public servants like these appointees to fill critical roles in our justice system,” Cooper said in a statement. “I appreciate their commitment to serving the people of North Carolina.”

The other constitutional amendment voters will see on the November ballot cover topics like the right to hunt and fish, victims’ rights, a Voter ID law and a cap on the state income tax. Read a detailed breakdown of the amendments here.