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Reproductive rights2FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2013            

ACLU: ‘Conscious Protection’ Bill Is Opposite of Religious Liberty
H.B. 730 Would Allow Public Hospital Employees to Refuse Abortion Care & Private Employers to Refuse Contraception Coverage for Women Because of Religious Beliefs

RALEIGH – A bill that would allow public hospital employees to refuse to participate in abortion care and private employers to deny contraception coverage to women because of their personal religious beliefs was approved by North Carolina House Judiciary Committee A today. House Bill 730 now heads to the full House for a vote.

In response, the ACLU of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) released the following statement: Read More

Two North Carolina legislators want the First Amendment to stay out of their county, and defy court rulings that prevent government bodies from invoking sectarian prayer before conducting public business.ford and warren

The “Rowan County Defense of Religion Act,” filed yesterday,  aims to make Rowan County in central North Carolina county an oasis where the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment does not apply.

The resolution, filed by Rowan County Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren, also says the county will get to ignore rulings from higher courts seeking to uphold the Constitution’s powers.

Any constitutional scholars (or first year law students) around to fact check? Please, we’d love to hear what you think of this one.

Here are some snippets from  (House Resolution 494):

Whereas the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishing of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ and

Whereas this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools….

and

“Whereas, the Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional ….  the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the  people.

The Rowan County Commissioners have been fighting attempts to stop them from using Christian prayers to open their meetings, and are being sued by the ACLU of North Carolina in federal court.

UPDATE: The ACLU of North Carolina had this to say about the bill, from legal director Chris Brook: “The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principles of the separation of powers that date back to the founding of this country.”

 

Rowan County Defense of Religion by ncpolicywatch

DroneFrom the good folks at the ACLU-NC:

ACLU-NC Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Limit Drone Use in North Carolina
Bill Would Place Safeguards on Use of Drones for Surveillance Purposes

RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is voicing its strong support for a bipartisan bill introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly this week that would place safeguards on the use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, in North Carolina.

“We applaud this bipartisan group of lawmakers for coming together in the interest of protecting privacy rights for all North Carolinians,” said Sarah Preston, Policy Director for the ACLU-NC. Read More

Roy Cooper 3North Carolina Attorney General is generally a good guy who has done many good things during his long stint heading the North Carolina Department of Justice, so he is probably entitled to a boneheaded error or two.

If that’s so, however, Cooper more than used up his quota with the ridiculous and wasteful appeal he filed today in the “Choose Life” license plate case.

What in the world is going on?!

That he ever sought to defend this blatantly unconstitutional law giving favored government treatment to the views of anti-abortion advocates in the first place was an extremely questionable decision.

Hello?! Anyone at home over there in the DOJ? Earth to Roy: You are an independently-elected constitutional officer with some discretion in these matters. What if the reactionaries down the street at the General Assembly had passed a law outlawing abortion entirely? Would you have defended that too? What about a law that only permitted Christians to serve in the General Assembly? A law that sought to reinstitute Jim Crow?  Read More

Attorney General Roy Cooper today filed a notice of appeal of  Senior U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox’s December 7 ruling that the state’s offering of a specialty “Choose Life” license plate to drivers, without a corresponding plate supportive of reproductive freedom, was unconstitutional.NCCHOOSE

“It’s unfortunate that the state has chosen to prolong what is really a very clear-cut First Amendment issue,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation — a plaintiff in the case.  “The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has consistently ruled that anytime the government creates an avenue for private speech, it cannot restrict that avenue to only one side of a contentious debate. This case is ultimately about the right of North Carolinians of all political beliefs to have equal access to avenues for the free expression of ideas, and we look forward to making our arguments before the Court of Appeals.”

After the legislature approved the “Choose Life” license plate in 2011, some members proposed amendments that would authorize an additional plate stating “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.” The legislature rejected all those amendments.

In the case before Judge Fox, the state argued in part that the “Choose Life” plate was protected government speech and thus constitutional. Fox, though, called that argument a “stretch,” given that the state advertised the specialty plate program as a chance for North Carolina drivers “to show off [their] special interests,” and held that “the State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”