Senator Phil Berger rewrites the state constitution unilaterally

Here’s a fact that you probably didn’t know about the North Carolina Constitution: It was changed recently in a dramatic and important way.

Here’s what it used to say in Article IX, Section 4, Subsection (1):

“Board.  The State Board of Education shall consist of the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer, and eleven members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly in joint session.  The General Assembly shall divide the State into eight educational districts.  Of the appointive members of the Board, one shall be appointed from each of the eight educational districts and three shall be appointed from the State at large.  Appointments shall be for overlapping terms of eight years.  Appointments to fill vacancies shall be made by the Governor for the unexpired terms and shall not be subject to confirmation.”

What most people don’t realize is that a new provision was added recently (at least effectively) that says the following:

“State legislative leaders are free to ignore their constitutional duty to act on the Governor’s nominations when they don’t like the Governor, consider him or her a “lame duck,” think they may be able to stall until they get a Governor in office whom they like better or simply feel that they can get away with it.”

If you think this is a joke, read the latest edition of Policy Watch Investigates by reporter Sarah Ovaska.

Warning: You may be shocked by the utterly cynical lawmaker attitudes described in the story — attitudes that even a one-time powerful state Republican leader criticizes as “partisan politics.”  

  

One Comment

  1. Jim Stegall

    June 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Please highlight the portion of the constitutional passage you cite that requires the General Assembly to act on the governor’s nominations within a specific time frame. I’ve been over this passage many times and have yet to find such a requirement. It appears quite obvious that the General Assembly is well within its constitutional rights to confirm or not confirm the governor’s nominations whenever they darn well please.

    While we’re on this issue however, please take a look at the language that specifies the term of each board member “Appointments shall be for overlapping terms of eight years.” In fact, there are at least two persons ‘serving’ on the current board whose eight-year terms of office expired a year ago. Yet these individuals continue to show up for meetings, are seated at the board table, participate in board actions (including voting), and receive compensation for their expenses. Yes, I know there is a statute that allows officers of the state to continue in office until their replacements are confirmed, but as we all know (or should know) a statute cannot overrule or change a provision of the Constitution. The Constitution says the term is for eight years–period. The current board is illegally constituted.