The list of North Carolinians in favor of “nix all six” (a.k.a. voting against all six proposed constitutional amendments) is growing.
Faith leaders from across the state gathered Thursday for a press conference announcing that the General Baptist State Convention — the largest association of Black churches — adopted a resolution to encourage congregations to vote against the six amendments.
The amendments are a proposed cap on state income tax, a photo identification requirement for voting, a hunting and fishing measure, a legislative appointment process for judicial vacancies, a reorganization of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and a victim’s right proposal. Lawmakers have not disclosed how each of those measures would work if approved by the public but plan to sort out the details in a lame-duck session if enacted.
Convention President Nilous Avery II called the amendments another overreach of power and said lawmakers shouldn’t have a blank check to fill in later. He was joined by NC NAACP President the Rev. Dr. Anthony T. Spearman and NC Council of Churches Executive Director Jennifer Copeland.
“For nearly seven years now, we the people have been the victims of an unconstitutionally constituted General Assembly that has enacted laws that are extremely detrimental to our lives,” Spearman said. “We’ve been stuck with laws that would have never made it onto the books if had we had fair representation.”
The NAACP is one of four civil rights and environmental groups challenging four of the constitutional amendments in court. They filed a motion for summary judgement — a decision — in the case Thursday.
“Allowing the challenged amendments to stand would be a rebuke on the popular sovereignty for which our democracy stands,” Spearman said.
In their brief to the court, the groups argue that the General Assembly lacks the legal authority to amend our state’s constitution because the supermajority required to propose amendments is the product of the legislature’s illegal racial gerrymander.
The suit challenges four specific proposed amendments, relating to judicial vacancies, state board of ethics and elections, photo voter ID requirements, and income tax rates, each of which passed with just barely enough votes to clear the constitutionally mandated three-fifths majority.
“Our constitution makes clear that it may only be amended via the will of the people of North Carolina,” stated Kym Hunter, who is senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, in a news release. “Our current General Assembly drew districts that segregated too many of our state’s African-American voters into an artificially small number of districts, diluting their voice. This illegal body cannot be permitted to take the monumental step of radically changing our foundational document.”
Spearman in the press conference with faith leaders said the NAACP will not stop fighting.
More than 100,000 brochures will be distributed by churches to hundreds of congregations on the final Sunday before Election Day, urging members to vote against all six constitutional amendments on the ballot. The brochures were produced by Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan voting rights groups, especially for the Baptist and AME Zion churches.
Copeland said none of the amendments were good for the state of North Carolina, even if some may sound like a good idea.
“We stand here today as faith leaders joining our voices with a host of organizations across North Carolina who toil every day tirelessly for liberty and justice for all who live in this state, and they are particularly incensed about these amendments,” she said.
She described the amendments as another example in which current lawmakers were attempting to curtail the state’s future by limiting the present.
“We must trust our future elected officials to make those decisions and not limit their ability to do so in a way that ensures all North Carolinians will flourish,” she added.