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State lawmakers sent the so-called “Ag gag” bill on to Governor McCrory today. As was explained at some length in this space a few weeks ago, this troubling proposal is targeted at activists who have exposed horrific abuses of animals in agricultural facilities but it raises other concerns that go beyond those circumstances:

“Crafting a statute that protects legitimate property rights when they are competing against the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees and the flow of information in a free society is an enormously complex and difficult proposition. Perhaps there is some reasonable point at which the two competing interests are properly balanced, but then again, perhaps such a balancing point really doesn’t exist. Let’s hope, at a minimum, that sponsors of the bill continue to fine tune the language with an eye toward finding that point and that, if they can’t do so, they opt for language that errs on the side of free speech. The current version isn’t there yet.”

Worker advocates at the North Carolina AFL-CIO issued the following statement today in response to the bill’s passage:

“North Carolina shouldn’t treat workers trying to expose criminal activity by their employers like criminals themselves, but House Bill 405 comes close to doing just that. If Governor McCrory signs this misguided bill into law, employers in our state will be able to sue their workers for having exposed criminal activity on the job. Senators even rejected an amendment that would have allowed those workers to use proof their employer broke the law as a defense in court. It seems lawmakers are more interested in protecting unscrupulous employers than the health and safety of our workforce or of the public at-large. HB 405 is as extreme as it is overbroad, and we call on Gov. McCrory to veto this dangerous legislation.”

Let’s hope that, if nothing else, the Governor’s well-known affection for animals leads him to do more than simply rubber stamp this troubling proposal.

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Good news last night in Boone. This is from the ACLU of North Carolina:

Watauga Board Votes to Keep “The House of the Spirits” in Honors High School Curriculum
ACLU of North Carolina Joined Parents, Students and Community Members Earlier in the Day to Rally in Support of the Freedom to Read  

BOONE, N.C. – The Watauga County Board of Education tonight voted 3-2 to keep Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” in the county’s public school curriculum for sophomore honors English students after a challenge to the board had been brought. Two board-sanctioned committees had previously voted unanimously to keep the book in the curriculum.  

Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation, released the following statement: Read More

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Book bansBad news for those who had hoped that the move by religious conservatives to ban Alice Walker’s The Color Purple in the Brunswick County schools had run out of steam once and for all with the 3-2 “no” vote on January 3. Judging by the comments of chief book ban champion, board member Catherine Cooke, things may just be getting warmed up.

Check out the video from the January 7 school board meeting in which Cooke goes on a semi-coherent rant (it’s at the 48 minute mark) about how “our Founding Fathers established our universities and our schools on Christian principles,” how she will continue to battle “things that are not decent,” and how she plans to continue to go over curricula and related items with a “fine-toothed comb.”

Sigh….Yet more compelling evidence that there are few tougher jobs in the Republic than serving on a local school board beset by the religious right.

The board meets again next Tuesday the 21st.

(Photo: ACLU of North Carolina)

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As the video at the end of this release from the NC NAACP, explains, today’s Moral Monday protest will go on despite attempts by the McCrory administration to keep it out of sight.

Moral Monday Service of Redemption

Today at 4:00 PM on Halifax Mall — behind the NC General Assembly, 16 W. Jones St., Raleigh

RALEIGH – On November 26th, the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement delivered a letter to Gov. McCrory signed by 3,000 people of good will calling on him to convene a Special Redemption Session of the legislature by December 23rd to rescind the laws that deny Medicaid to nearly 500,000 North Carolinians and unemployment benefits to 170,000 families. Since that letter was delivered, over 5,000 more people have signed on.

On Monday, December 23rd, the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement will hold a Moral Monday Service of Redemption beginning at 4:00 pm at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. Read More

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As noted in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing,  there are lots of important reasons to be deeply concerned about the decision of a political group funded almost exclusively by the state Budget Director to demand the private correspondence of a prominent McCrory administration critic.

ICYMI, however, Professor Paul Carrington of the Duke University School of Law (the school’s former Dean) authored a column (and then an exchange of letters to the editor – click here for the Civitas letter)  in the Durham Herald-Sun  in recent days that sheds additional light on the subject.

Here is Carrington’s most recent on-the-money take — which was published last Friday:

Civitas not telling whole story about Nichol Read More