By Levi Vermont
Christian Action League
November 3, 2021
In April of 2020, Donnie Lovette, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Wilmington, wrote an editorial for the Christian Action League at the start of the pandemic. In it, Lovette lamented the overreach of Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders, especially his restrictions on churches and the number of people allowed to attend worship services. Lovette admonished:
“I have nothing against anyone, but when one man in a state can order millions of people to stay at home, that’s too much power. When one man can stop churches from meeting, that’s too much power. When one man can close down some businesses and leave others open, that’s too much power. When one man in a state can throw away our rights guaranteed by the Constitution, that is way too much power…So, today, I hope our N.C. General Assembly will take up this matter and do what is necessary to assure that no leader in our state can again close down churches and businesses and devastate families through orders that are more than temporary and cause suffering for millions of our fellow North Carolinians.”
Lawmakers did respond to the Governor’s abuse of powers by passing HB 264 – The Emergency Powers Accountability Act. The measure sought to strengthen and clarify emergency management laws and restore certain checks and balances during extended emergencies. More specifically, the legislation required the Governor to get concurrence from the Council of State, which consists of a bipartisan group of ten statewide elected offices established by the state constitution, for an emergency declaration lasting more than seven days – and legislative approval for it to extend beyond 45 days.
But on Monday of this week, Governor Cooper vetoed the bill.
Cooper’s explanation for his veto touted his administration’s work as having saved lives and preserved the economy. He said stopping deadly diseases shouldn’t be relegated to a committee of partisan politicians. “An emergency needs decisive, quick, and comprehensive action, not bureaucracy and politics,” he argued in his veto document.
P. Jason Phibbs, in a recent article for Carolina Journal, however, explains the extremes to which Cooper’s actions under emergency powers have gone. Phibbs wrote:
“For those who think the term dictator is hyperbole, consider the following. To date, he [Gov. Cooper] has issued 83 executive orders that have limited the free exercise of religion by forbidding gatherings, the right to free speech by curtailing the operation of government, the right to peaceably assemble unless you were doing so for one of his favored causes (e.g. BLM protests), the right to personal property by forcing business closures or restrictions, and the right to bodily autonomy with mask and vaccine mandates, all without legislative input, due process, or equal protection. In addition, Cooper has issued 64 vetoes, more than all other N.C. governor’s combined (35), while politically intimidating Democratic members of the legislature to prevent a veto override. Finally, under state law, ‘A state of emergency declared pursuant to this section shall expire when it is rescinded by the authority that issued it.’ Therefore, Cooper has absolute rule as head of the executive branch, can block any bill he does not like from the legislative branch, and has the protection of a Democrat majority on the state Supreme Court in the judicial branch.”
In response to the Governor’s veto, Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the nation’s founders, even North Carolina’s forefathers, would have considered Cooper’s actions anathema to freedom and worthy only of a tyrant.
“They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to liberate us from tyrants. If it were possible for us to hear their voices from the grave, they would admonish us that blood was spilled by thousands to protect us from those like Cooper. But most of us have become so accustomed to big government through the years; we fail to recognize how outrageous the Governor’s actions have been. Most people see it only as a partisan political fight between Republicans and Democrats – a Governor who is a Democrat battling a Republican-controlled legislature. It isn’t that simple. I believe it’s an assault on our Constitution – on the consent of the governed,” said Creech.
Unless Cooper is impeached, he will remain in office as Governor for approximately three more years.
The Scriptures teach, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).