Cooper files for restraining order against new law limiting some powers

A judge granted Governor-elect Roy Cooper's request on Friday for a temporary restraining order to block a law passed by the state legislature last week while his lawsuit over it is pending.

With traditional election boards, the governor would have had the power to appoint five board members, two of them being recommended by the other main party. The State Board of Elections members who presided over 2016's contentious early voting and post-election complaints would end their service Saturday. The legislation has already passed bills to subdue Cooper's powers while in office. The outgoing Governor Pat McCrory refused to concede until a month after the election.

The former attorney general took the oath of office in the Old House Chamber of the Tar Heel state's capitol building in Raleigh.

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The law they passed significantly neutered the powers of the incoming governor, handing much of his power to the Republican lieutenant governor and dramatically reducing the number of staffers Cooper could both hire and fire.

Under the new law, an "independent" board would be made up of eight members, split evenly between the two major parties. Judge Stephens plans to review the law Thursday.

Senate leader Phil Berger said the lawsuit is a power play from the incoming governor. Cooper argues the law prevents the executive branch from carrying out one of its core functions, since the elections board is an executive agency.

The next four years will be one of interest for Democrat Cooper as the state's General Assembly is primarily Republican.

In a statement, Gov. -elect Cooper argued that the new law could create longer lines at polling places, less early voting and general difficulty for voters. "A tie on a partisan vote would accomplish what many Republicans want: making it harder for North Carolinians to vote", he said. The state Constitution gives the Senate the ability to "advise and consent" to the governor's appointees by a majority vote, but that provision hadn't been used in at least several decades. A law McCrory signed last March limiting non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and directed which public bathrooms transgender people can use was a big issue in the fall campaign. His transition has been fraught with threats of a recount.