House Republicans along with five conservative Democrats followed the NC Senate Monday afternoon in overriding Governor Perdue’s veto of legislation that revamps the Racial Justice Act. Critics say the new law (SB 416) essentially guts the RJA by no longer allowing individuals to use statewide statistics in order to demonstrate racial bias in our state’s capital punishment system.
The House voted 72-48 to reject the governor’s veto less than two hours after the NC Senate’s 31-11 vote on the bill.
House Majority Leader Paul Stam told his colleagues that there had been more than enough debate on the issue of race and the state’s justice system:
“It’s time to go forward with real justice,” said Stam.
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina criticized the vote:
“This is a sad day for justice and for North Carolina. By gutting the Racial Justice Act, our legislature has turned its back on the overwhelming evidence of racial bias in our state’s death penalty system. Politicians have decided they would rather sweep disturbing information under the rug than work to ensure that racial bias plays no role in North Carolina’s death penalty,”said Sarah Preston, Policy Director for the ACLU-North Carolina.
Late in the day, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (PFADP) also issued a statement:
“By repealing the Racial Justice Act the General Assembly has brought about unintended consequences . First, it has re-galvanized thousands of North Carolinians into action. In recent days PFADP members sent more than 5,000 email and telephone messages directly to NC legislators and the governor to keep the RJA. Second, the repeal of the RJA will now lead to years of costly litigation paid for by our taxpayers in the face of undeniable evidence that racial bias has, in fact, influenced who receives the death penalty.”
To hear more from House members on Monday’s veto override, click below: