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Lt. Gov. Forest discusses lawsuit challenging Cooper's COVID-19 orders

Forest scheduled a Monday news conference to discuss a lawsuit he told Cooper last week he wanted to file over his COVID-19 executive orders.
Credit: AP
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest speaks to members of the media during a news conference in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, June 29, 2020. Forest plans to sue Gov. Roy Cooper over alleged violations of the state Emergency Management Act during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is already challenging Roy Cooper in this fall’s gubernatorial election, but now he’s also preparing to challenge Cooper in court. 

Forest scheduled a Monday news conference to discuss a lawsuit he told Cooper last week he wanted to file over his COVID-19 executive orders.

The Republican says Cooper is failing to follow state law by issuing orders closing businesses and limiting movement without receiving formal support from members of the Council of State.

Cooper’s office has said the Democratic governor has other powers that let him act without receiving the “concurrence” of the council.

"This week, in my capacity as Lieutenant Governor and a member of the Council of State, I am filing a lawsuit against Governor Roy Cooper challenging the executive orders related to Covid-19 and the process by which they were implemented. This is the only option left on the table as all others have been exhausted.

This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Governor Cooper’s orders. It specifically addresses his lack of authority under the Emergency Management Act to shut down North Carolina without the concurrence of the Council of State. The members of the council of state include, The Governor, The Lieutenant Governor, The Secretary of State, The Attorney General, Treasurer, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the State Auditor.

From the beginning of our country, Americans have rightly been suspicious of executive power. When the Governor is delegated power, it is not absolute. There exists a system of checks and balances which are necessary to ensure that we respect the freedom and will of the people.

One person, in the position of governor or secretary of health, is not allowed, under the law, to shut down wide swaths of the economy indefinitely. Governor Cooper has not followed the law.

In March, Governor Cooper announced via social media that he was going to shut down restaurants in a matter of hours. Then, a few hours later he asked council of state for approval of his plans. He then held a press conference announcing his plans while the council of state was in the process of voting via email. The majority of the council of state voted not to approve the executive order because the governor allowed no time for discussion of an order that shut down 11% of the states economy without sufficient time for those impacted to prepare.

The Governor chose to unilaterally move forward in defiance of the law and the Council of State. To date, he has not sought concurrence on six separate Executive Orders related to shutting down North Carolina.

In times of crisis the rule of law is more important than ever. We must do the right Thing, in the right Way. No one, Governor or Citizen, is above the rule of law.

I am asking the court to invalidate Governor Cooper’s unlawful executive orders that continue to shut down parts of our economy until he receives the concurrence of a majority of the Council of State as required by law."

Letter to Gov. Cooper: 

Read the full story on WRAL.

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