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Forest drops lawsuit challenging Cooper executive orders

By Bryan Anderson, Associated Press/Report for America

North Carolina Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest ended a testy legal battle with campaign rival and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday after a judge recently rejected Forest’s demand to block Cooper from shuttering businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forest sued the governor last month, seeking to prevent Cooper from unilaterally issuing executive orders limiting business activities and mass gatherings without the approval of a 10-member state body. The Council of State includes Cooper, Forest, Attorney General Josh Stein and several other statewide elected officials. Cooper argued he had sufficient emergency authority to take executive action in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Jim Gale ruled on Tuesday that Forest didn’t prove he was likely to win arguments that Cooper has exceeded his emergency authority or that the law is unconstitutional. The lieutenant governor informed the court on Wednesday he was dismissing his lawsuit.

“I did my part,” Forest wrote on Twitter shortly after the judge’s decision. “If y’all want your freedoms back you’ll have to make your voices heard in November.”

Liz Doherty, a spokeswoman for Cooper’s campaign, called Forest’s lawsuit “reckless” and said in a statement that it would have hurt public safety.

“While Dan Forest makes reckless decisions that endanger North Carolinians in an effort to prop up his campaign, Governor Cooper will continue to do what is right for their health and safety,” Doherty said.

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