RALEIGH, NC — With President Joe Biden’s approval ratings plummeting and polls showing most Democrats want someone else to be elected by 2024, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) has started getting more national attention as a presidential prospect for 2024. Echoing another promising 2024 governor of California, Gavin Newsom (D), Cooper has escalated his condemnation of Republicans in recent weeks.
The Washington Post has referred to Cooper as “the leading contender you hear the least about”. A profile in The Atlantic suggested that Cooper could provide “a compelling balance to Vice President Kamala Harris as the white male Democratic governor of a major swing state.” The New Republic described Cooper as “the living, breathing antonym of controversy” and “a mild-mannered, salty and peppery lawyer whose countenance alone tells every North Carolinian born and raised that he came far east of the capital of Raleigh.”
Indeed, Roy Cooper is often portrayed as a moderate, both in style and substance. This centrist perception is widely regarded as key to Cooper’s political success in a state where the Republican Party has been on the rise for 30 years. Yet this perception of moderation no longer corresponds to reality.
Roy Cooper has begun to sound a new, harder note in recent weeks, one that will make it difficult for anyone to continue to label him as moderate. Take the August 19 interview with his local NPR member station, in which Cooper sounded more like an MSNBC pundit or a Slate writer than the governor of a big, purple state. During that WUNC interview, Cooper claimed that the United States Supreme Court is controlled by former President Donald Trump. Cooper went on to say that the Republicans in the state legislature, with whom he will have to work with if he is to achieve anything during his last two years in office, want to strip the voting rights of North Carolinians.
There is a problem with Governor Cooper’s claim that the U.S. Supreme Court is obligated or controlled by the former president, namely that it is well-documented for being out of sync with the actual events. Donald Trump even publicly denounced the three Supreme Court justices he nominated for refusing to go along with his efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.
When asked how these events fit with Governor Cooper’s claim about Trump’s influence on the court, Cooper’s staff did not answer. While Cooper’s recent comments indicate that he is moving away from moderation when it comes to style, new developments show that he is also moving away from the center when it comes to policy.
Cooper backs ruling that would cause constitutional crisis
The North Carolina Supreme Court heard pleas on Aug. 31 in a protracted case in which the Cooper administration is arguing for an outcome that would lead to a constitutional crisis. That lawsuit, commonly referred to as the Leandro case, will determine whether a judge can order state officials to approve new releases not approved by the General Assembly.
In this case, Cooper wants the North Carolina Supreme Court to compel state controller Nels Roseland, a Cooper appointee, to take any action he believes would violate his oath of office and open him up to criminal charges. The GOP’s leadership in the General Assembly, which intervened in the case, points to language in the state constitution that allocates such spending power to the legislature, not the courts.
Speaker Tim Moore (R) and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) pointed to the credit clause of the North Carolina constitution, which clearly states that “the power of the purse is the exclusive prerogative of the General Assembly,” according to a 2020 decision of the Supreme Court of the State. This provision has been part of the Constitution of North Carolina since its ratification in 1776.
By backing the Leandro prosecutors, Cooper seeks to take education spending decisions off the hands of the Republican-led General Assembly. He wants courts to force the state to approve his favored spending plan, called a comprehensive recovery plan, developed by San Francisco-based consultants working with Cooper’s allies.
Speaker Moore’s General Counsel Sam Hayes stated, “This is a blatant coup by Governor Cooper. The governor is trying to achieve through lawsuits what he couldn’t through the legislative process. Despite the plaintiffs’ claims, the Comprehensive Remedial Plan, prepared by a California consulting firm and paid for by the Cooper Administration, is not the only way to fund education in this state. That is up to the citizens of North Carolina, through their elected leaders, to decide.”
Democrats support lawsuit to overturn voter-approved ballot measures
Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority in the North Carolina Supreme Court. But with two seats on the state’s Supreme Court currently held by Democrats to be voted on in November, chances are the majority will soon be lost to Republicans. Meanwhile, Republicans control the General Assembly with near-supermajorities. With time likely running out for their state Supreme Court majority, Supreme Court Democrats on August 19 issued what many consider to be one of the most controversial United States Supreme Court rulings in recent history.
In that August 19 decision, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled 4-3 along party lines against two constitutional amendments overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the NAACP, who argue that because the two measures were taken on the ballot by lawmakers from gerrymandered districts, that means the two amendments are illegal even though voters voted them overwhelmingly. good. The four Democrats in the state’s Supreme Court referred the case back to court and ordered the lower court to make a new decision in the case based on a brand new three-part test completely invented by the Democratic judges.
One of those constitutional amendments included a voter ID requirement. The other change reduced the state’s personal income tax rate from 10% to 7%, which was a relatively uncontroversial proposal given that North Carolina’s income tax rate is currently a flat 4.99%, slated to drop to 3 in a few years. .99% to go. Given that the reduced income tax would not even come into play, which was also the case in 2018 when the rate was 5.75%, it is noteworthy that Governor Cooper opposed the change to the income tax cap. After all, the only logical reason to oppose this change is that it is felt that the personal income tax rate should be above 7%, which would be 40% higher than the current rate and 75% higher than where the rate in a few will lie for years. year.
Despite Cooper’s opposition, more than 57% of voters voted in favor of the measure to lower the income tax ceiling, while the voter ID measure received 55% support. The August 19 Supreme Court decision to overturn the will of millions of voters who supported these two measures has been praised by progressive politicians and commentators. Leaders of a progressive organization in North Carolina ironically hailed the ruling as a triumph for democracy.
“Four Democratic judges nearly threw out the legitimate votes of millions of North Carolinians in a brazen, partisan effort to remove voter identification requirements from our constitution and deny the people the opportunity to amend their own constitutions,” Senator Paul Newton said in a statement. R.), said chair of the North Carolina Senate Finance Committee, in response to the Aug. 19 Supreme Court ruling.
The Aug. 19 ruling in the NAACP lawsuit, which is backed by Governor Cooper and other leading Democrats in North Carolina, if led to a logical conclusion, would have huge implications for public policy in the ninth-most populous state. of the country. If the logic of the August 19 ruling were equally applied to other laws passed by gerrymandered district lawmakers and not just to constitutional amendments, many important laws enacted over the past decade would have to be repealed.
For example, major reforms have been made to North Carolina’s tax law since Republicans took control of the General Assembly more than a decade ago. Should the North Carolina Supreme Court ruling of August 19 be led to a logical conclusion, North Carolina should return to tax law in 2012, when the state had the highest personal and corporate tax rates in the southeast of the country. United States. If North Carolina went back to its pre-2013 tax code, North Carolina residents would see their top personal income tax rate rise from 4.99% to 7.75%, while corporate tax would more than double, from 2%. 5% to 6.9. %.
Joe Coletti, formerly of the John Locke Foundation and now director of the supervisory staff of the North Carolina House Majority, calculated how much North Carolina has saved because of the tax reforms implemented over the past decade. According to Coletti’s calculations, since 2013, North Carolina’s have held on to $18.9 billion in revenue that would have gone into the state treasury had the tax code not been revised by the Republican General Assembly. That savings figure doesn’t even include the latest income tax cut that was part of the current budget enacted at the end of 2021.
While Governor Gavin Newsom has made a name for himself after Republican governors whose states are among the top destinations for ex-Californians, Governor Roy Cooper has turned his barbs on Republicans in the state, at least for now. When asked in a recent CNBC interview to explain how he’s found common ground with the Republican-led legislature, Governor Cooper didn’t mention the bipartisan budget they recently passed that will boost employers’ job creation potential. Cooper instead responded by touting all areas of disagreement between him and Republican lawmakers.
Maybe it’s because of presidential ambitions. Perhaps it’s because of his new role as head of the Democratic Governors Association. None other than Governor Cooper and those closest to him know the real reason why he has taken on a more vicious tone to the Republicans with whom he will have to work for the rest of his term. However, there is no denying that such a shift in tone has occurred.