[JURIST] The North Carolina legislature [official website] on Thursday overrode [vote count] Governor Roy Cooper’s [official website] veto [text, PDF] of a bill that makes state judicial elections partisan. House Bill 100 (HB100) [text, PDF; materials] will make all judicial elections partisan beginning in 2018, marking a return to partisan judicial elections unseen in North Carolina for nearly 20 years. Party primaries will now elect judicial nominees, and their party designations will appear next to the candidates’ names on the ballot. Many see this veto override as an effort by the Republican legislature to further restrict the power of the newly-elected Democrat governor to shape state policy. The North Carolina House overrode the veto on Wednesday in a 74-44 vote [vote count], and the Senate overrode the veto in a 32-15 vote, both nearly exclusively along party lines.
Struggles between the North Carolina Republican legislature and Democrat Governor Roy Cooper have been ongoing. In December, North Carolina’s then-governor Republican Patrick McCrory signed [JURIST report] into law Senate Bill 4 [text, PDF], which restricts the powers of the incoming governor Cooper, who was also the state’s Attorney General until he was elected. The legislature also passed House Bill 17 [text], signed into law by McCrory also in December, which further restricted the then-incoming governor’s powers. Specifically, Senate Bill 4 eliminates the governor’s control over the State Board of Elections by reducing the number of members from the governor’s party on the board from three out of a total of five to two out of a total of four. Senate Bill 4 also requires the party affiliations of appellate judicial candidates to be printed on ballots and further increases the power of North Carolina’s appellate courts. House Bill 17 requires Cooper’s cabinet secretaries to be confirmed by the Senate, reduces the number of administrative positions in the executive branch, strips the governor of his powers to appoint trustees at the University of North Carolina and some of his powers to oversee schools in the state. McRory lost to Cooper in the November elections but refused to concede victory [NPR report] until a recount proved that he lost by more than 10,000 votes.