HB2, News

AP reports $3.76 billion in lost business by 2028 over HB2; Cooper responds

The Associated Press unveiled a hefty price tag Monday for how much House Bill 2 will cost North Carolina — $3.76 billion in lost business by the end of 2028.

The AP’s analysis was compiled through interviews and public records requests and “represents the largest reckoning yet of how much the law, passed one year ago, could cost the state.”

“Still, AP’s tally is likely an underestimation of the law’s true costs. The count includes only data obtained from businesses and state or local officials regarding projects that canceled or relocated because of HB2. A business project was counted only if AP determined through public records or interviews that HB2 was why it pulled out.”

You can see a full breakdown of the AP’s numbers here.

Republicans have assured North Carolinians and others that the sweeping anti-LGBTQ legislation isn’t hurting the economy and said they’re willing to pay the price if it keeps sexual predators from going into women’s restrooms and assaulting them.

Opponents say that claim is bogus and that there should be a law in place to protect LGBTQ community members.

Efforts to repeal the law have failed. Efforts to compromise on repealing the law have failed.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who tried to broker a deal in December to get the law repealed, responded Monday to the AP’s report.

“We now know that, based on conservative estimates, North Carolina’s economy stands to lose nearly $4 billion because of House Bill 2,” he said. “That means fewer jobs and less money in the pockets of middle class families. We need to fix this now. I remain ready to support a compromise that works to end discrimination and brings jobs and sports back to North Carolina.”

Republican leaders have yet to respond to the report on social media. Lt. Dan Forest declined to be interviewed by the AP, according to its report. He is one of the law’s strongest supporters and has “accused news organizations of creating a false picture of economic upheaval.”

The ACLU of NC legal director Chris Brook recently spoke with Chris Fritzsimon about the discriminatory HB2 and what the last year has been like. Brook is involved in the ACLU’s litigation over HB2.

You can listen to his full radio interview on News and Views here.

Courts & the Law, News

Rep. Joe John talks judicial, legislative experience in midst of partisan battles over the courts

Rep. Joe John (D-Wake) holds a picture from his office that was taken during his time as a judge. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

When House lawmakers passed a bill to reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, Rep. Joe John was crushed.

The Wake County Democrat spent a quarter of a century in the courts; he’s worked as a legal-aid attorney, a prosecutor and has served on the bench as a District Court judge, Superior Court judge and Court of Appeals judge.

“I took that one pretty hard,” he said of House Bill 239. “I was down; I was depressed.”

He spoke out on the House floor before a vote was taken along party lines. He pointed out that the appellate court’s workload didn’t justify the reduction of judges. He used his experience to try to give insight to legislators who might not understand the weight of their decisions.

“It is possible that folks who had never been judges — and I am the only former judge in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as far as I gather — it’s possible they don’t appreciate and understand the judicial branch is not and has never intended to be a political branch of government,” John said.

The General Assembly has been taking aim at the judiciary since former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded the election in December. There have been a number of bills passed that change the structure of the courts.

The bills, altogether, deal a blow to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper — lawmakers appear to want to strip him of appointment power, and subsequently keep the opposition from becoming the majority.

Cooper has said politics have no place in the courts and John agrees.

The first-term lawmaker won’t go as far as saying he’s gotten used to his peers voting for judiciary bills, but by the time they took a vote last week to override Cooper’s veto of a bill that makes judicial elections partisan again, he wasn’t surprised.

Still, John spoke up before the vote.

“I say to you it is no exaggeration to characterize this issue as not just a vote, but a vote upon which the future of an independent judiciary in North Carolina depends,” he said.

His colleagues didn’t listen. Read more

Courts & the Law, News

Legislature overrides veto, joins seven other states in making partisan judicial elections law

Superior and District Court judicial candidates will now be identified on the ballot with an R or D by their name. The Republican-led General Assembly voted to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 100.

The House voted along party lines to override the veto yesterday and the Senate voted today.

Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, released the following statement:

“Injecting partisan politics into our courts is wrong and harmful to our state. Once again, as with HB2, legislative Republicans have created a solution in search of a problem to advance a divisive political agenda that won’t create good jobs, improve our schools, or put more money in the pockets of middle class families. Governor Cooper will continue to fight for better priorities.”

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger posted a picture of the Senate’s override on his website.

“For years, Gov. Cooper and his allies have stoked fears of voter disenfranchisement – yet when he had the opportunity to actually increase voter involvement, he rejected a measure that the data suggests would do just that. I’m pleased the General Assembly corrected the governor’s misstep and this bill is now law.”

Republican proponents of the bill have argued that voters have a right to know the political ideology of a judge. Democrat opponents have argued that judges should remain untouched by partisan elections to keep the judicial branch independent.

North Carolina joins only seven other states in the nation that have partisan judicial elections.

Courts & the Law, News

N.C. House overrides Cooper’s veto of bill making judicial elections partisan again

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday 74 to 44 along party lines to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill that would make Superior and District Court judicial elections partisan again.

The Senate must also vote to override House Bill 100. If the body overrides the bill and it becomes law, North Carolina joins only seven other states that have partisan judicial elections.

House Republicans and Democrats debated for about 10 minutes whether to override the bill before there was a vote. The body debated helmets for autocycles afterward for about an hour.

Rep. Joe John (D-Wake), a former Court of Appeals judge, was particularly outspoken about not making judicial elections partisan again.

“I do not look upon this as a partisan issue but a bipartisan one affecting all … judges alike,” he said.

Rep. Joe John

Rep. Joe John (D-Wake)

John, who also served as a District and Superior Court judge, asked his peers not to throw judges into the “muck and mire of partisan political elections,” and said he wished he could fully express the dangers of politicizing the courts.

“It’s not often in time we’re given a second chance,” he said.

He wore a pin on his jacket that he earned after serving on the Court of Appeals and said now more than ever North Carolina needs an independent judiciary.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly) said voters deserve to know the political ideology of judges and that HB100 would restore voter’s rights.

Courts & the Law, News

U.S. Supreme Court: Schools must provide more than minimal education to disabled students

In a unanimous opinion released today, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a disabled student and his family who did not believe a Colorado school district was doing enough to provide an adequate education.

School districts must provide students with disabilities more than a “merely more than de minimis” education, according to the opinion. That language was developed by lower courts over time as a legal standard and upheld in a separate case, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley.

It was also used by a lower court that decided because the student in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District had received “some educational benefit,” the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) standard to provide free, appropriate education had been met.

The parents of Endrew F., a minor with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sought private school reimbursement under IDEA after pulling their son from public school over a proposed IEP for his fifth grade year.

In the high court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a child’s individualized education plan (IEP) must be “reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstances.”

“Rowley did not provide concrete guidance with respect to a child who is not fully integrated in the regular classroom and not able to achieve on grade level. A child’s IEP need not aim for grade-level advancement if that is not a reasonable prospect. But that child’s educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances, just as advancement from grade to grade is appropriately ambitious for most children in the regular classroom. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives,” the opinion syllabus states.

You can read the full opinion here.

On a side note, Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s pick for a vacancy on the Supreme Court, has relied on the minimal education standard in the past. You can read more about that here.