Trio of politically charged judicial bills clear House

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Republican bills that would strip the ability of North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to fill judicial vacancies and reduce the size of an appeals court have cleared the House amid arguments over transparency and political power.

The House voted largely along party lines Thursday for the measures now heading to the Senate. They are the latest actions by the GOP-controlled General Assembly to scale back the governor’s powers and shift them to the legislative branch.

One bill would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12 members simply by eliminating judgeships opened by death or resignation. Those vacancies have been filled by the governor.

Two other bills would shift the authority to fill District Court and emergency Superior Court judge vacancies from Cooper to lawmakers.