Lt. Gov. Forest files lawsuit against Gov. Cooper over state’s COVID-19 response

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says he’s ready to take Gov. Roy Cooper to court over the state’s COVID-19 response.

“In times of emergency, it’s more important than ever to uphold the rule of law,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R).

As Forest files suit against Cooper, he says he’s not concerned with the substance of Cooper’s executive powers as much as he is with clarifying them.

“When the Governor is delegated power, it is not absolute,” said Forest.

At the center of Forest’s complaint is that the Council of State, a bipartisan group, didn’t sign off on shutting down the state economy due to concerns with COVID-19.

“One person, in the position of Governor or Secretary of Health, isn’t allowed under the law to shutdown wide swath’s of the economy indefinitely,” said Forest.

“The Governor is acting well within his legal rights,” said Sen. Wiley Nickel (D). “If Dan Forest actually bothered to show up to work, he’d know that the majority of Republicans don’t agree with this lawsuit.”

The General Assembly passed a bill that would require Cooper to obtain approval from the Council of State before imposing additional restrictions and prohibitions, according to a Monday news release.

Forest admits he filed the lawsuit without the approval of the Council of State.

“We didn’t ask them in this case,” said Forest.

That has political opponents like Nickel questioning if Forest is simply playing politics as he faces of with Cooper in the November election.

“Dan Forest is absolute playing politics with the health and safety of North Carolina,” said Nickel.

“There’s nothing politically expedient about suing the Governor,” said Forest. “It doesn’t politically work in your favor.”

“Anybody can file a lawsuit, but this lawsuit is on a one way train to nowhere,” said Nickel.

A spokesperson for Cooper’s office provided CBS 17 with this statement on the lawsuit:

“As states like Florida and Texas backtrack after rushing re-opening and surging new cases, Governor Cooper will continue to be guided by science and the law as he works every day with public health experts to keep North Carolinians safe. Partisan politics must be put aside when responding to COVID-19.”

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