An Open Letter to Governor McCrory Regarding Coup d’etat By Court Appointment

Dear Governor McCrory:

I write now to draw your attention to something I hope will be very precious to you: the opportunity to do good for your state and to be the governor you claimed you wanted to be when you campaigned for the office four years ago. I am sure that as you look backwards now at your time in office you regret that instead of leading with the moderation and centrism you claimed to bear, you were yourself led, by a radical legislature, into a term of extremist actions, most notable of which was your support and signature on the disastrous HB2 that has done such damage to our state’s people, fortune, and reputation.

Regrettably that action has caused you to lose your position as governor, and so one naturally assumes that as you leave you would like to demonstrate to the North Carolina populace the better aspects of your nature that the legislature prevented you from showing.

I refer of course to the threatened action by the legislature of packing the North Carolina Supreme Court with two additional conservative justices that it would expect you to appoint mere weeks before your exit. Certainly no reasonable person can imagine such an action would fulfill the will of the people — given a choice between two judges for the Supreme Court, the people in this very election firmly chose the more liberal one. Appointing additional judges, to tilt the balance of the court away from the direction chosen by the citizenry, would be little short of tyranny. Much like HB2, it would be action taken by legislators against the wishes and interests of their constituents. Again: this is tyranny.

Fortunately, you have in the very actions of legislators of your own party on the national stage a road map to prevent error and protect the people of your state. In the United States Senate, Republican legislators for the better part of a year have refused to even consider a judge nominated by President Obama — it would be madness, they say, for an executive to have the opportunity to name a justice so close to an election after which he will no longer be sitting. Better, they claim, to leave the choice to his successor. Chosen by the people, his successor will have the right to name new justices. (That these senators also promised to block any nominations did they not happen to like the successor we will presume was mere extremism in their zeal to protect the honor of the presidency.)

When Republicans nationwide endure the criticism of an entire nation because they desire so fiercely to prevent an exiting executive from naming judges, they provide a precedent that you can easily follow. Assure the legislature that, to be sure, they have the votes to change the size of the North Carolina Supreme Court, even against the will of the people (a will that has anyway not, to this point, impressed them overmuch). You then merely assure them that if they vote to increase the size of the court by two justices, you will, following the precedent set by their national leadership, leave the two new vacancies for your successor. You will allow Governor-elect Cooper to fill those vacancies just as the United States Senate has spent most of a year waiting to allow the successor to President Obama to fill the vacancies on the United States Supreme Court.

To do otherwise will make clear that you, like the legislature — and like the national leadership of your party — have abandoned any pretense of carrying out the will of the people. You govern by whim, by caprice, for your own gain and satisfaction regardless of its effect on those who elected you. But to refuse to carry out this madness, to refuse to participate in this profound disrespect for the expressed will of the electorate, allows you, as you vacate your office, to put the will of the people foremost, to serve the people. It will allow you to be the man you claimed to be.

In these last days of your service to the people of our state I send you good wishes, good conscience, and the courage to brave tyrants — something for which our state was once known.

With my best regards,

Scott Huler

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