There’s a Simple Step North Carolina’s New Governor Could Take

Feb 2, 2017

The above headline is not ours – it’s from an article in Slate written by Richard Hasen, an election law expert and professor at UC Irvine School of Law. Hasen also writes the Election Law Blog.  

You may remember that back in July of 2016 a federal appeals court ruled North Carolina’s voting overhaul targeted African-Americans with “almost surgical precision.” Republican lawmakers cut early voting, eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, preregistration of high schoolers, and created a photo ID requirement. The appeals judges wrote that lawmakers had data showing the changes would disproportionately affect African-Americans. 

That court put implementing the overhaul on hold. The Supreme Court is due to weigh in.

But Hasen looked through North Carolina law and found, what he believes, is a way Governor Roy Cooper can stop the Supreme Court from even considering the case. "The governor and attorney general get to control the state’s litigation, even when an agency is involved," Hasen writes, "So it looks like nothing would stop Gov. Cooper and AG Stein from simply withdrawing the cert petition, leaving the North Carolina case on the books and denying the Supreme Court a chance to grant review."

You can find his blogpost here.

UPDATE: Hasen has added a new blog post on this issue:

In response to my Slate piece calling on the North Carolina governor to withdraw the cert. petition, Brett Wilcox points me to this statute which gives the General Assembly some power to hire outside counsel, but also give the governor the power to “employ counsel on behalf of the state.”

So it is not clear if the Governor’s attempt to withdraw would be successful. But at the very least, it looks like he could try to withdraw and file something expressing his disagreement with the General Assembly’s position in the litigation.