RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said Monday that his impending lawsuit against Gov. Roy Cooper for unilaterally closing businesses and mandating face masks in response to COVID-19 isn’t politically motivated, despite their November election matchup.
Forest, a Republican, said at a news conference the Democratic incumbent has failed to seek or receive support for a half-dozen executive orders since March from the Council of State. That began with a March 17 ban on dine-in restaurant services, which Forest also criticized, saying it would “devastate” the economy.
“This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Gov. Cooper’s orders,” Forest said at the Legislative Building. “In times of crisis, the rule of law is more important than ever. We must do the right thing in the right way. No one – governor or citizen – is above the rule of law.”
Cooper and his administration have said he has other authority–citing several laws–to act on his own without the council’s “concurrence” to protect health and safety. The 10-member council is composed of Cooper, Forest and eight other statewide elected officials. Six council members are Republican.
Forest has been one of Cooper’s most vocal critics about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, in particular, issuing statewide directives shuttering businesses and capping attendance at mass assemblies. The closings have contributed to double-digit unemployment. Some sectors are still closed three months after his first stay-at-home order.