A North Carolina State Court Declares War on the Republican Dominated North Carolina State Legislature!

Shots fired!!!

From Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog:

Release:

The Wake County Superior Court today ruled that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly did not have legal authority to place constitutional amendments on the ballot because it did not act with the full will of the people of North Carolina.  The court voided two constitutional amendment proposals – related to imposing a photo voter ID requirement and lowering the state income tax cap – that were hurriedly enacted in the final 2018 special session of the illegally-constituted legislature before it left office.
Judge Bryan Collins of the Wake County Superior ruled that “[a]n illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s Constitution.” As a result, the two amendments challenged by the plaintiffs are void, and the constitution will revert to its earlier form.

It is not at all clear that this ruling will stand. Aside from the fact that these amendments went before voters for a popular vote (which was not called into question), this ruling would seem to call into question all the actions of the General Assembly based upon the improper drawing of districts. I have not seen such a holding before.

While Hasen, who is one of the preeminent subject matter experts in the area of election law, may be right that this ruling may not stand, it does appear that other courts, including a Federal court in Connecticut, have made similar holdings in the past.

I’m sure the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature, as well as the North Carolina Republican Party, will try to appeal this through the state courts hoping to get the state supreme court to overrule the state court in Wake County. And if that fails to the Federal courts in order to get the case to the Supreme Court and a favorable ruling from the conservative majority. We’ll have to wait to see what happens, but for now this is a bit of good news. Especially as it gives Governor Cooper ammunition within the North Carolina state courts to ignore the ridiculous restrictions that the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature keep trying to place on him.

Open thread!

21 replies
  1. 1
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I am not a lawyer nor a North Carolinian, but it seems to me that Wake County Superior Court =/= North Carolina Supreme Court.

  2. 2
    rikyrah says:

    The new Chief Justice is a Black woman

  3. 3
    oatler. says:

    “North Carolina yields to South Carolina, courteously.”
    From “1776” (1972)

  4. 4

    @Gin & Tonic: thing to note is the NC Supreme Court has a 6-1 Dem elected majority.

    And NC has a doctrine of usurped governmental bodies lying around to use

    https://www.facingsouth.org/2018/08/north-carolinas-usurper-legislature-challenged-amending-constitution

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Good catch, I saw state court and my brain translated it to supreme court, I’ll fix it.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: All fixed. Both in title and body of the post. It’s been a long week…

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David Anderson: Message in bound. Since you’re up and about…

  8. 8
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    It seems to me that there are some legal questions (perhaps dealing with the state’s constitution?) in which the state Supreme Court has the final word — there is no appeal to the US Supreme Court. And I am not a lawyer, just vaguely recalling some news stories, and may have that completely wrong. Anyway, might this be a situation where the North Carolina courts will have the final say?

  9. 9
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: OK, thanks. Blogs that are nearly top-10,000 should strive for accuracy, and I guess even drones like me have a role to play.

  10. 10
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: You are correct, which is why when the Pennsylvania supreme court struck down the PA gerrymandered and mandated new districts the ruling was solely rooted within the PA state constitution, which meant it couldn’t be appealed through the Federal system and the Republicans were forced to comply. We’ll have to wait and see what the North Carolina state supreme court does.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You were quite right to point this out. I’ve had one very long, very exhausting week, so I have no problem recognizing I screwed that up. I’m pooped. Will probably be checking out for the evening in about 30 to 45 minutes.

  13. 13
    Miss Bianca says:

    Ooh, this should be exciting…

  14. 14
    RepubAnon says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: We’ll see whether the US Supreme Court finds some federal constitution violation on which to base jurisdiction…

  15. 15
    James E Powell says:

    @RepubAnon:

    Experience shows that the US Supreme Court finds whatever it wants to find and sees no basis for what it does not wish to see.

  16. 16
    Mary G says:

    Well. the NC Republicans have been behaving very badly for years now, so I am glad the court smacked them down.

  17. 17
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    @James E Powell:
    Yes. But I am cautiously optimistic.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    New post up. I’m sure we’ll get some lovely new commenters.

  19. 19
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    The editor and publisher of the Democrat-Reporter, Goodloe Sutton has resigned in the face of withering criticism over his op-ed last week: The Klan Needs to Ride Again.

    He has turned his duties over to Elecia Dexter, who is described only as an “African-American” woman.

    But sure to take the Halloween costume with you when you clean out your desk, Goodloe.

    Ride!

  20. 20
    JGabriel says:

    Adam Silverman @ Top:

    I’m sure the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature, as well as the North Carolina Republican Party, will try to appeal this through the state courts hoping to get the state supreme court to overrule the state court in Wake County. And if that fails to the Federal courts in order to get the case to the Supreme Court and a favorable ruling from the conservative majority.

    Can they take it to Federal courts or SCOTUS, though? I mean, it looks to me like it’s all state issues. I don’t know how you’d make the case that Federal courts have jurisdiction.

    ETA: Never mind, I see other commenters already got there first.

  21. 21
    J R in WV says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    Good riddance to bad trash… he should have hung it up back when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

    Thanks for the update, Lurker~!~

    We lived in Pascagould MS for a decade back in 1972, was like being in Mississippi in 1950, or ’30, or… nothing changed, ever, really.

    And still today, the schools are segregated so that precious snowflakes never get to know people of other races, except for star QB material from the black schools who get “scholarships” to the private all white “Christian” schools.

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