by Sam Hieb
Interesting News & Observer article on the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would transfer much of the power to fill judicial vacancies from the governor’s office to the General Assembly. It’s important to note that judicial nominees would not be subject to the governor’s veto.
So with that in mind, the N&O focuses on three words missing from that proposed constitutional amendment. So simple, yet so complicated, but here’s the gist:
Gerry Cohen, a longtime former head of bill-drafting at the legislature, notes how the proposed amendment is noticeably different from other parts of the N.C. Constitution about issues the governor can’t veto.
The state constitution says the governor is powerless when the legislature adopts bills revising election districts and “no other matter.” Or when it adopts a bill that solely makes an appointment to public office and contains “no other matter.” The “no other matter” language is missing in this case, Cohen said, which could be interpreted as intent.
“The other veto exemptions do say (and no other matter),” Cohen said. “It’s either a lack of understanding of history, a mistake or deliberate.”
And if it’s deliberate? Critics say legislators could attach an unrelated bill to a judicial nomination that would not be subject to veto. Republican leaders assert that is not the intent in leaving out the words “no other matter.” But critics and the media obviously are not satisfied and turn to legal experts to speculate whether or not a judge would allow legislators to exploit “such a small loophole.”