Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland), co-chair of the Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee, made the following statement at Wednesday’s committee meeting:
“The purpose of today’s meeting is to implement a transparent and fair process to determine whether Gov. Cooper’s proposed cabinet secretaries are capable, qualified, without conflicts of interest, and willing to follow the laws of our state and nation. This process is about good government, and North Carolina’s constitution clearly provides – in black and white – for the Senate to undertake this duty.
“The nearly identical federal process that is taking place in Washington D.C. even as we speak shows the public is paying attention, and we ought to do everything we can to give the people confidence that our state’s leaders will be accountable to them. There is no question these nominees will wield a lot of power, control multi-billion dollar budgets and make decisions that affect millions of North Carolinians – but as of today, Gov. Cooper hasn’t even said how much the taxpayers are paying his nominees.
“The attempt by three judges to stop today’s proceedings is unprecedented in state history. Never before has a judge told the representatives elected by the citizens that they cannot hold a committee meeting as allowed by the constitution. The Committee is here today and ready to proceed. However, we are going to delay this meeting because the Acting Secretary is not present. But make no mistake: the General Assembly will meet to review the qualifications of Gov. Cooper’s cabinet nominees as allowed by the constitution, and we are going to get answers to questions regarding their qualifications, potential conflicts of interest and willingness to obey the law.
“Until then, this meeting is adjourned.”
A three-judge panel issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday night against the Senate’s constitutional right to confirm the governor’s cabinet secretary nominees. At that time, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore issued the following joint statement in response:
“In a gross misreading of the Constitution and a blatant overstep of their Constitutional authority, three Superior Court judges attempted to dictate to the legislature when it could or could not hold committee meetings and what it could or could not consider in those meetings. This unprecedented move would be like the legislature telling a judge what jurors to pick to decide a case. Judges are not legislators, and if these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat. Their decision to legislate from the bench will have profound consequences, and they should immediately reconvene their panel and reverse their order.”