Democrats on a North Carolina legislative committee looking at potential changes to judicial election districts and the selection of judges have walked out of the meeting after a Republican committee leader declined to hear from a retired judge that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper sent to speak on his behalf.

The Senate panel had asked for a representative of Cooper’s administration to attend its meeting Wednesday to offer the governor’s perspective on proposals being discussed. Cooper offered recently retired Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens. Committee co-chairman Sen. Dan Bishop said Stephens wouldn’t speak because he wasn’t part of the administration.

All the Democratic members left the committee room after some lodged their objections to Bishop’s decision, saying other perspectives should be heard. Stephens is a critic of recent legislative actions. He said outside the room that he sees no reason for altering how judges are selected.