Critique of court pick decision unfounded

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Outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue is taking some final fire from Republicans for her decision to replace N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson without going through the formal process she established for doing so.

Perdue is getting around the process that she created by executive order last year by modifying it because there isn’t enough time left in her term to go through the normal process, which would take about six weeks.

N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger blasted the governor for bypassing the independent nominating commission she created in order to fill the empty court seat before Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory takes office next month. Berger pointed out that the order creating the commission allows her to direct it to shorten the six-week time frame.

GOP leaders also criticized Perdue last year for stacking the 18-member nominating commission with Democrats when she created it.

While the state’s high court is officially non-partisan, registered Republicans do hold a one-vote majority on it. Perdue obviously is forsaking the independent panel process so she can appoint a Democrat to the bench.

That said, the GOP criticism rings hollow. McCrory would be under no obligation to follow Perdue’s executive order and could simply issue his own order creating a new process for filling judicial vacancies.

If Berger and Republican lawmakers want a judicial nominating process that would have to be followed under any circumstances, they could certainly get to work on one in the next legislative session.

But with a fellow Republican in the governor’s mansion next year, that seems highly unlikely.