The North Carolina Court of Appeals didn’t waste any time in blocking Superior Court Judge David Lee’s order in the Leandro case that the state government spend an additional $1.7 billion on public education.

The Court of Appeals received a petition from North Carolina State Controller Linda Combs on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and on Monday, Nov. 29, the Court of Appeals set 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30 as the deadline for any response.

And on Tuesday, Nov. 30, the three judge Court of Appeals panel voted 2-1 to permanently block Lee’s order.

In the decision the Court of Appeals didn’t pull any punches.  It states that Judge Lee’s order “would devastate the clear separation of powers between the Legislative and Judicial branches and threaten to wreck the carefully crafted checks and balances that are the genius of our system of government.”

The decision also states that Lee’s “conclusion that it may order a petitioner to pay unappropriated funds from the State Treasury is constitutionally impermissible and beyond the power of the trial court.”

In commenting on the decision in a press release, President Pro Tem of the state Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “The people of North Carolina through their elected legislators, not an unelected county-level trial judge, decide how to spend tax dollars.  Rather than accepting responsibility for lagging achievement and outright failure, the Leandro parties insist that the pathway to student improvement is always the simple application of more money.”

Berger added, “Judge Lee, education special interests, and the Cooper Administration hatched this unconstitutional scheme to funnel $1.7 billion in extra money to a failed education bureaucracy; this Court has rightly called them on it.  The legislature will continue to follow the Constitution and advance policies that enhance opportunities for student achievement, empower parents, and fund students, not failing bureaucratic systems.”

Court of Appeals Judge John Arrowood dissented on the grounds that a temporary stay should have been granted until a full hearing by the Court of Appeals.