Protesters descended on the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly this week to object to the legislature’s actions limiting the next governor’s power before he even takes office, reports the Associated Press.
The demonstrators view the moves as an unconstitutional legislative coup by GOP legislators who are unhappy that their candidate didn’t win re-election. Democrat Roy Cooper narrowly beat Republican Gov. Pat McCrory by 10,000 votes last month.
“We voted for a new governor and they’re choosing to come and … take away the power,” said Caren Parker of Carrboro, N.C., to AP. The outlet reports that there were more than 50 arrests at the state Capitol in Raleigh, N.C., this week.
Democracy Now reports that in an unprecedented move, Republicans filed dozens of new bills this week during a special session of the General Assembly called to consider relief for Hurricane Matthew victims. It notes:
The Republican lawmakers are attempting to impose measures to slash the number of state employees appointed by the governor, require Senate approval for all of the governor’s Cabinet picks and strip the governor of the power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees. Another bill aims to weaken the governor’s control over the state Board of Election. Yet another Republican bill would strip some power away from the Democratic governor and give it to the lieutenant governor, who happens to be a Republican. None of the bills were being considered until after Republican Governor Pat McCrory conceded defeat.
The protests are expected to continue, and Democrats in the state have vowed to file lawsuits. AP reports that several pieces of legislation passed by Republicans since they took control of the General Assembly in 2011 have been struck down by the courts.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and the force behind “Moral Mondays,” was one of the demonstrators this week. He called the moves by Republican lawmakers part of the “third Reconstruction” of this nation.
“I believe all of the pushback we’re seeing—the voter suppression, the redistricting—is because the extremists see the possibility of a third Reconstruction. They know that if we register 30 percent of the African-American voter, unregistered voters, in the South, and if we add to that whites and progressive whites and Latinos, you will have changed the South,” said Barber.