Just before North Carolina Governor Ray Cooper took office, the state general assembly voted, along party lines, to give themselves more power while taking power away from the state’s executive branch.

The legislators adopted new provisions that restricted The new Democratic governor’s powers 10 days before he took office. Today, a panel of three judges will hear the case and decide whether or not the legislature’s actions went too far and violated the constitution.

GOP lawmakers stripped the governor’s right to run elections, choose board members at community colleges and removed his ability to fill vacancies on the State District Courts. The state’s general assembly now holds those powers.

Cooper’s attorneys contend the governor’s office is now much weaker than the legislative branch, due to the legislature’s encroachment upon his powers, which upsets the balance of power between the three branches of government.

The legal argument to be heard by the panel of judges regarding the state’s balance of powers will likely be appealed, and that process could take several more months.

Each of the three branches of government have define abilities aimed at checking the powers of the other two branches. Separation of powers is a philosophy used in the Constitution to prevent abuse of power by one branch of government over the others.