Exactly three-fifths of House lawmakers passed the second reading of a constitutional amendment Wednesday that would give them more power to appoint judicial vacancies.
Senate Bill 814 has already passed the Senate, and if it passes a third reading in the House, it will be put before the voters on the November election ballot.
Lawmakers debated the bill on the House floor Wednesday and then voted 72-48 to pass it. Democratic Leader Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) objected to the third reading and it remained on the calendar to be taken up at a later time.
He and other Democrats called the amendment a sham and said the wording was crafted to be attractive to the public but doesn’t actually have any teeth to take politics out of the vacancy appointment process…
…Rep. Robert Reives II (D-Chatham, Lee) also brought up a number of concerns with the amendment. He countered the Republican argument that lawmakers were more accountable to the people than the governor and said the current process was not as undemocratic as they make it out to be.
“I need you to take this seriously about this, about what we’re doing … we are obliterating the separation of powers clause in the constitution,” he said.
Ultimately, Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly, Montgomery), who has been the architect behind most of the legislation in the past year affecting the courts, got the last word and said he disagreed with his colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
“This is setting up an open and transparent process,” he said.