NC Senate GOP Leader: We Haven’t Discussed Packing Top State Court

Several Republican North Carolina state lawmakers are shooting down rumors that the legislature could expand the number of seats on the state Supreme Court, allowing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to appoint Republicans to those seats and flip the state’s top court back to Republican control.

Democrats won back a majority on the court on Election Day, and McCrory appears poised to lose his re-election bid to Democratic state Attorney General Roy Cooper, prompting reports that Republicans could use a special session to pack the court before McCrory leaves office.

However, Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R), have denied plans to expand the court.

“The only people I’ve heard talking about that have been members of the press and Democrats. There have been no discussions within our caucus about that issue,” he told Time Warner Cable’s “Capitol Tonight” on Thursday.

Republican Rep. David Lewis, chair of the state House Rules Committee, told Raleign television station WRAL in an interview published Friday, “There has been no talk that I’m aware of among leadership about doing that.” He said that expanding the court could hurt Republicans politically.

“I think the political optics of it would be tough to overcome,” he told WRAL.

Rep. Mitchell Seltzer (R) said talk of expanding the court is “idle chatter.”

“I haven’t heard anything about it from any official channel,” he told WRAL.

Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady said that while there is “constant chatter among people who don’t know what they’re talking about” he has not “heard discussion from anybody in leadership laying out an agenda or even having an agenda in that regard,” according to WRAL.