Commentary

Editorial: List of NC laws struck down as unconstitutional continues to grow

Last Friday’s welcome decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the state’s “Monster Voting Law” as unconstitutional was, of course, just the latest in a series of such rulings for North Carolina. In fact, as a new Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial points out this morning, the scoreboard now reads: Constitution 6 — North Carolina’s conservative political leadership 0.

“If the General Assembly were a major league franchise, the front office would be looking to make some major changes in the on-field leadership. A D-league performance simply does not cut it. In six high-profile court cases testing laws passed by the N.C. General Assembly, the current legislative leadership stands 0 and 6.

These are costly legal battles with legislative leaders shelling out hundreds of thousands, if not millions of taxpayer dollars to handpicked lawyers to help plead their losing cases. The big test the work of a legislature faces: Does it withstand the intense scrutiny of a legal challenge. With other high-profile cases now pending in the courts, including HB2, it could get even worse.

State or federal courts have rejected the legislature on:

  • Separation of powers – The state Supreme Court ruled the legislature over-reached when it sought to control a panel set up to deal with the state’s coal ash crisis.
  • Congressional redistricting – Unconstitutional gerrymandering forced federal courts to demand a special primary election this year for members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Local school board and county commissioner districts – Unprompted, the legislature redrew Wake County Commission and School Board districts, which federal courts rejected.
  • Teacher association payroll deduction – State courts found the legislature’s effort to prevent the N.C. Association of Educators from using payroll deduction to collect dues was illegal.
  • Judicial “retention” elections – The state Supreme Court rejected an effort to change direct election of state Supreme Court justices to so-called retention elections, a thinly-veiled attempt to protect Republican justices.
  • Voter ID and other ballot-access changes – In a scathing and unsparing opinion the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals just last week labeled unconstitutional and racist, a series of changes to the state’s elections laws that curtailed voting rights of African Americans.

As the editorial goes on to say:

“We hope, and urge these drunk-with-power leaders to sober up and come to their senses. Their cases are hopeless. Settle these futile court battles.

It will save taxpayers huge sums of money and give our government leaders the opportunity to focus on the real needs of North Carolina and its citizens.”

Click here to read the entire editorial: “Legal Scorecard: Constitution-6 and NC Legislature-0.”

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