Yeah, this isn’t Durham specific, but it’s pretty big news. In light of the 4th Circuit ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same sex marriages earlier today, Roy Cooper has stated he’ll stop defending NC’s own anti-equality Amendment:
“It’s time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court,” he said.
It will be interesting to see the grandstanding by GOP legislators in response, and whether they pursue any additional retaliation against the AG’s office. Cooper, who is arguably the most prominent Democrat in NC politics (and an incredibly likely candidate for Governor in 2016), has tried very hard up to now to defend the Amendment in about the weakest way possible, a tightrope act which has allowed him to avoid direct confrontation with the legislature (but hasn’t exactly made him many friends on either side of the issue).
Although the legislature and the Governor can’t get rid of Cooper, they have various ways to reduce his headcount and otherwise reduce or obstruct the mission of the attorney general’s office.
One of the more interesting possible outcomes here is the Senate trying to step in to defend the law in lieu of Cooper. Last session the legislature granted itself the power to represent NC in lawsuits, and this is exactly the reason why they did so. Cooper has in the past maintained that the law wouldn’t apply in Constitutional scenarios, but the Senate could try to do just that, and in turn that move would probably itself be challenged in court.