Raleigh, NC- Governor Pat McCrory, joined by former governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt, has asked the North Carolina courts to declare unconstitutional commissions that violate the separation of powers clause of the North Carolina Constitution.
"These commissions make government less accountable to the will of the people. Citizens and voters must be able to distinguish which branch of government is responsible for making the laws and which branch is responsible for carrying out the laws and operating state government," Governor McCrory said.
Recent examples of unaccountable commissions include the proposed Board of the Department of Medical Benefits, the proposed Social Services Commission and the Coal Ash Commission.
Governors McCrory, Hunt and Martin believe that these commissions are unconstitutional because they have Executive Branch powers but are unaccountable to the Executive Branch. Furthermore, the General Assembly assumes powers of the Executive by appointing members of commissions that clearly perform executive branch functions.
"Upon taking office, I took an oath to uphold and defend the North Carolina Constitution. I have a duty to the people of North Carolina and future governors to protect the longstanding principles enshrined in our state's constitution," Governor McCrory continued.
Resolving these constitutional differences through a lawsuit was not the governor's first choice. The governor made repeated efforts to avoid this lawsuit, including asking Lt. Governor Dan Forest, Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger to join him in asking for an advisory opinion from the North Carolina Supreme Court. Lt. Governor Forest agreed. Speaker Tillis and Senate Pro Tempore Berger declined.
"The disagreement among the two branches is not acrimonious, but it is of fundamental importance," said Governor McCrory. "I have too much respect for North Carolina's constitution to allow the growing encroachment of the legislative branch into the responsibilities the people of North Carolina have vested in the executive branch.”
This suit follows a lawsuit filed last week by the North Carolina State Board of Education, chaired by Bill Cobey. The State Board is represented by former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr.
Governor McCrory said the legal dispute will not hinder his shared agenda with the General Assembly to build a stronger North Carolina.
“While the judicial branch works out our differences, I look forward to working with and building on the relationships we’ve forged with members of the General Assembly to create jobs, improve education and make government more efficient.”