By Jason Schaumburg
(The Center Square) – Lt. Gov. Dan Forest filed his lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday, July 1, arguing Cooper has violated the Emergency Management Act with the manner in which he has issued COVID-19-related executive orders.
Forest, a Republican who is running against the Democratic governor in November’s gubernatorial election, filed the lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court.
“This action does not concern whether defendant’s actions in response to the spread of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) were necessary, reasonable, wise, or driven by science, data, or facts,” the lawsuit reads. “This action concerns the manner in which these actions were taken. The manner in which the defendant took these actions is in violation of law as set out in this complaint.
“This action is about the rule of law.”
Forest said Cooper lacks the authority under the Emergency Management Act to shut down North Carolina without the concurrence of the Council of State.
The governor and lieutenant governor are two of the 10 state officials who make up the Council of State. The board also includes the secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, commissioner of labor, commissioner of agriculture, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction.
“The executive power of the governor is not unlimited and portions of the overall executive power may be vested in other executive officials as ‘prescribed by law,’ “ the lawsuit reads.
Cooper suspended dine-in services at restaurants March 17 in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Forest said Cooper issued the order despite overwhelming opposition from the mostly Republican Council of State and continued to issue orders without consulting with the members.
On March 22, Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home order that shuttered nonessential businesses and recommended North Carolinians shelter in place to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
As the trends in the outbreak started to decrease, Cooper gradually lifted some restrictions on businesses. However, a recent spike in cases has kept some limits in place.
Cooper’s current executive order, which expires July 15, keeps closed bars, gyms, fitness facilities and playgrounds.
The lawsuit asks the court to rescind Cooper’s orders until the governor receives the concurrence of the majority of the Council of State.
Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Center Square staff reporter Nyamekye Daniel contributed to this report.