Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday that his office and four outside attorneys would represent North Carolina in the federal government’s challenge of House Bill 2, hours after making a political issue of a court document filed in the case by his Democratic challenger.
An exchange of political volleys Thursday started when the Republican governor portrayed Attorney General Roy Cooper – who has said he would not defend the law – as reversing himself by responding to the complaint by the Department of Justice.
Cooper’s office had filed the response on Friday, with a deadline to respond looming and no other private attorneys representing North Carolina at the time – raising the possibility that the state could have been left unrepresented or had a judgment entered against it for lack of response. The filing asked for an extension of the deadline.
On Thursday, Cooper’s campaign called McCrory’s criticism misleading, reiterating Cooper’s opposition to the law and that he wouldn’t defend it.
McCrory’s campaign then called on Cooper to resign as attorney general “for gross incompetence.”
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the federal Department of Justice brought the lawsuit last month, naming as defendants the state, McCrory, the state Department of Public Safety and the UNC system and its board of governors.
Put another way, McCrory was going to blow off the deadline in the DOJ lawsuit, so Cooper filed a response to the complaint. Cooper agrees with the DOJ, so McCrory was not happy with the nature of the response.
Basically, it was a set-up. McCrory wanted to make Cooper look bad by making Cooper stick to his guns and not defend the case. When Cooper did file a (conceding) response, McCrory could then claim that Cooper was incompetent.
Except it really doesn’t seem that way. It seems that Cooper saved McCrory from a default judgment.