Battles Over New NC Laws on Voting, Elections Boards, Public Records and Redistricting Will Move to the Courtroom

Source: WFAE

North Carolina legislative Republicans overrode 19 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes during this year’s session but the fight over some of these laws is far from over due to lawsuits that have been filed and others that will be filed soon.

The veto overrides throughout this session have implemented a variety of controversial changes, including banning abortion after 12 weeks, weakening public records laws, stripping powers from the governor, advancing a controversial pipeline project, and changing how and when people can vote. 

Cooper filed a lawsuit against state lawmakers over Senate Bill 512 just hours after they overrode his veto. 

The governor called the law a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”

“Over the years, the North Carolina Supreme Court has repeatedly held in bipartisan decisions that the legislature cannot seize executive power like this no matter what political parties control which offices,” Cooper said. “The efforts of Republican legislators to destroy the checks and balances in our constitution are bad for people and bad for our democracy.”

Three lawsuits have also been filed against Republican leaders over Senate Bill 747.

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina, and North Carolina Black Alliance, with representation by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, filed suit, claiming that the legislation is “an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to vote of young North Carolinians.”

Before that, the Democratic National Committee and North Carolina Democratic Party sued over SB 747, as did Voto Latino and Down Home North Carolina.

Republicans have also just passed changes to legislative and congressional maps that will gerrymander some Democrats out of office and give Republicans at least 10 of the state’s 14 congressional seats and allow them to keep their majorities in the state legislature for the rest of the decade.

These new maps may violate laws like the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which protects the rights of voters of color, as Republicans did not consider racial data in the drawing of the new maps. 

Raleigh-based political reporter Bryan Anderson told WFAE to expect lawsuits over the maps.

“There’s going to be a lawsuit. Democrats are going to have a next-to-impossible chance in state court, but they might have a decent chance in federal court depending on the maps that lawmakers enact,” he said.

Anderson also spoke about one of the biggest changes that has flown under the radar for many North Carolinians – Republicans made it so that public records laws allow them to refuse to release anything to the public and they can even destroy their own records.

“Redistricting records are no longer public records, and lawmakers can destroy their own communications as they see fit,” Anderson said. “And I’ve said, it’s like asking me to run a marathon. It’s probably not going to happen for lawmakers to be transparent. And even if it does, it’s going to be a long, painful journey to get there.”

A long, painful journey is exactly what this year’s legislative session has felt like for many North Carolinians. That’s especially true for those who are still waiting for Medicaid expansion to begin on Dec. 1. More than 600,000 North Carolinians are waiting for health care access because Republicans tied Medicaid to passing a state budget and then dragged their feet for months before passing the budget.

The foundation of our country’s political system is built on the idea that voters choose their representatives, not the other way around. Republicans are indifferent to this fact because they only yearn for more power. They are not concerned with fairness, decency, or what’s right and what’s wrong. This isn’t the first time Republicans have intentionally gerrymandered political districts in an attempt to stay in power and it won’t be the last.

Lawsuits against the Republicans’ new maps have not been filed as of this writing, but it’s been made clear that they will be soon.


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