Notice of appeal filed in amendments case, but special session possible

General Assembly leadership filed a notice of appeal Wednesday in an ongoing court fight over the wording of November ballot questions.

Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger asked to take that fight to the state Court of Appeals, where they‘d try to overturn a three-judge panel‘s decision to forbid the state from putting a pair of constitutional amendments on the ballot as planned.

Another path remains a possibility though: another special legislative session, held on short notice to rewrite the ballot questions in a way that will pass muster with the court.

The panel,, deemed existing amendment language backed by the legislature‘s Republican majority too misleading for the ballot.

The state NAACP, which along with Gov. Roy Cooper sued to keep these amendments off the ballot, filed its own petition earlier Wednesday, asking that the case go directly to the state Supreme Court. Cooper‘s side made a similar request.

Democrats hold a slight edge on the state Supreme Court, based on the political leanings of justices on the court. Republicans hold more seats on the 15-member Court of Appeals.

As for the potential special session, a decision hadn‘t been reached as of late Wednesday afternoon, according to members in leadership. Berger spokesman Pat Ryan said the appeal notice filed Wednesday preserves leadership‘s appeal rights, and that other options remain on the table.

“It‘s consistent with the considering-all-options approach,” Ryan said. “Doesn‘t mean we‘re certainly going through with the appeal.”

Cooper said Wednesday afternoon that the legislature should not come back into session, and that doing so with ballot deadlines looming in September would be “reckless.”

The State Board of Elections has said Sept. 1 is the latest it can finalize ballots and meet federal deadlines.

Both amendments in question in Cooper‘s suit would shift appointment powers from the governor‘s office to the legislature.