Looking for a one-stop update on all the pending election-related court cases? Look no more.
A long-expected "constitutional crisis" generated by the NC General Assembly (NCGA) is unfolding. Late Tuesday, the three-judge panel hearing arguments about several of the proposed constitutional amendments ruled that two of them must be pulled from the ballots. Both involve shifting substantial power from the governor (executive branch) to the NCGA (legislative branch). The judges focused on the language of the ballot questions, which they found to be misleading and insufficiently informative to voters. Here are the panel's findings about each challenged amendment. All former NC chief justices voiced their opposition to these amendments today, joining the opposition of every former NC governor.
NCGA GOP leaders Berger and Moore appealed the judges' decision to the state Court of Appeals, citing "uncharted territory for judicial activism," an ironic description of a court's response to what many across the state and nation find to be uncharted territory for legislative activism dating back to 2011's illegally gerry-mandered district maps and continuing through the June session's lightning fast unveiling and approval of a record SIX constitutional amendments with no discussion, no hearings, and no hint of due process. The 15-member Court of Appeals has a Republican majority.
In light of the tight deadline for resolution (ballots must be finalized by Sept 1 to comply with federal law around absentee voting), Gov Cooper and the NAACP filed to have the appeal heard instead by the NC Supreme Court, as the Court of Appeals decision would certainly be appealed again by the losing side. Democrats have a majority on that court (for the moment). The Executive Director of the NC GOP reminded the Democrats on the Supreme Court that the legislature could impeach them if they decide against the Republicans.
And (purposefully) adding more confusion to the situation, the NCGA is calling yet another special session today (Aug 24) to redraft the language of the two amendments in an attempt to do the absolute minimum to satisfy the three-judge panel's objection to their deliberately ambiguous and misleading text. It's too late to fix the amendments.
Just for fun, the Constitutional Amendments Publication Committee met Thursday morning to try to do the job the NCGA created it to do in 2016 (before Josh Stein was elected as Attorney General, giving Democrats the majority on that committee).
Last but not least, the NC GOP was dealt another judicial blow when a federal district court ruled that the candidates of the newly-formed NC Constitution Party must appear on the November ballot. This overturns part of the NCGA "sore loser" law they passed in June that would have prevented candidates who lost in a major party primary from running in the general election representing a new party, as they feared this conservative party could split their vote.
The NC GOP is paddling as hard and fast as they can to stay in power using whatever means necessary. They know their days are numbered, as even many people in their own party are disgusted with their continued over-riding of due process and unwillingness to compromise for the good of our state. Let's STAMP NC BLUE in November!