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N Carolina justices to take case on Court of Appeals number

October 27, 2018 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court says it will hear arguments on whether the legislature can trim judgeships from the state’s intermediate-level appeals court through attrition.

The state Supreme Court says it will take up litigation from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper against Republican legislative leaders challenging a 2017 law reducing the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 as retirements and other vacancies occur. The governor usually gets to name replacements, but that wouldn’t happen with the next three openings. The majority on a trial court panel last spring upheld the law.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear the case without it first going through the Court of Appeals itself. Cooper’s lawyers said bypassing the Court of Appeals would eliminate any appearance of impropriety to rule on its own membership.