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The editorial staff of the Greensboro News & Record issued a strong condemnation of yesterday’s convictions in Wake County District Court of 12 Moral Monday protesters including state NAACP leader, Rev. William Barber. According to the N&R:

“Wake County District Court Judge Joy Hamilton brushed aside constitutional claims Wednesday and convicted a dozen Moral Monday demonstrators of trespassing and violating legislative building rules. The defendants should prevail on appeal….

There should have been no arrests. The protests were peaceful. Participants didn’t damage property or attempt to occupy the premises or stop lawmakers from entering their chambers and conducting business. They were expressing their views — and, yes, praying — inside a government building at a time when it was open to the public….

The problem is that the exercise of rights is sometimes disorderly. The people’s right to gather in public places means their presence must be tolerated by government officials who would prefer they go away.

Moral Monday protesters did not go away. All North Carolinians, no matter their political views, should stand with them, because all hold the same rights. The courts should defend them.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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From the good folks at the ACLU-NC:

Randolph Board Votes to Reverse Ban on “Invisible Man”
ACLU of NC Says Episode is Valuable Reminder of Duty to Promote Academic Freedom and Reject Censorship

ASHEBORO – Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education voted 6-1 to reverse its previous vote banning Ralph Ellison’s literary classic, “The Invisible Man,” from Randolph County schools.

In response, Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) released the following statement:

“Tonight, the Randolph County Board of Education righted a wrong. The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as the freedom of speech and all other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. This episode should serve as a valuable reminder to students, teachers, parents, and school officials across the state of our ongoing duty to promote academic freedom, ensure the free exchange of ideas and information, and reject the always looming threat that censorship and suppression, for any reason, pose to a free society.” 

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Michele PresnellHouse Speaker Thom Tillis has just got to be thrilled by the lovable lugs in his increasingly crazy caucus.  First, nearly one our of every five House GOP’ers signs on to the now-officially kiboshed bill to reject the First Amendment’s application to North Carolina. 

Now, after Tillis thought he had put the whole matter to rest, one of the sponsors of the bill (Rep. Michele Presnell) is at it again — telling a constituent that she would not be comfortable with prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting because “I do not condone terrorism.”

Looks like North Carolina’s ongoing role as the butt of national media and comedy show jokes is likely continue for a while.

John Frank has the story here.

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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