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Court strikes down ban on payroll deductions for NCAE dues

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner has held that the state’s prohibition of a payroll deduction by the North Carolina Association of Educators to collect dues from its members is unconstitutional.

In an order entered on Dec. 18, 2012 [1], Gessner permanently enjoined enforcement of that ban, saying that it “constitutes retaliatory viewpoint discrimination” in violation of Article 1, Section 14 of the state constitution.

Gov. Beverly Perdue had vetoed the bill establishing that prohibition in July 2011, saying that it targeted the NCAE since other groups were not similarly banned from collecting dues through payroll deductions.

But in January 2012, after failing to override Perdue’s veto of the Racial Justice Act repeal, Republicans announced a 12:45 a.m. session at which they overrode her veto of the NCAE bill.

According to media reports, the Republican-led legislature had adopted the ban after the NCAE ran ads attacking Democrats who sided with Republicans in last year’s state budget battle.

Party leaders denied that the measure was politically motivated, but in a private caucus meeting that was inadvertently broadcast to the press room, House Speaker Thom Tillis said, ““The reason we’re doing it is because the NCAE has gone into all five districts with mailers hammering these Democrats. It’s just a little taste of what’s to come.”

NCAE President Rodney Ellis said in a statement that the group was extremely pleased with the decision, “especially the court’s recognition that our members have a constitutional right to express their views on issues important to the education community. Standing up for those views is the very reason NCAE initiated this lawsuit.”