N.C. NAACP to sue lawmakers over special sessionBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / December 28, 2016
The N.C. NAACP says that it is “planning to sue” the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly once again, alleging that it committed “violations of the  Voting Rights Act [and] the Equal Protection Clause” when it stripped incoming Democrat Governor Roy Cooper of various appointment powers during what it believes was an “illegal” extra special session of the state legislature last week.
Democrat Gov-elect Cooper has also vowed to go to court if needed.
“[These] Republican extremists have a special kind of low, and a thirst for power to lie the way they do,” Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, charged on MSNBC Saturday. He maintained that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a recent ruling, found that the 2016 N.C. legislature was “unconstitutional” because its 2011 legislative maps were racially gerrymandered. The federal appellate court ordered that when the N.C. General Assembly officially went back into session in January, that it redraw the 2011 maps that, thus far, have been used for the 2012, 2014 and the recent 2016 General Elections, by March 2017.
Once approved by the federal court, then special primaries are to be held in either late August or early September 2017, followed by special elections for state lawmakers in November 2017.
This also means that lawmakers will also have to run for reelection the following year in 2018.
The only reason why the U.S. Fourth Circuit did not order the 2011 maps to be redrawn prior to the 2016 elections is because there wasn’t enough time.
Rev. Barber and others maintain that despite the special session originally called by Gov. Pat McCrory to deal with disaster relief in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew, and the forest fires in western North Carolina, it was not lawful for Republican legislative leaders to authorize an unannounced extra special session for the purpose of removing key appointment powers from Democrat Gov-elect Roy Cooper (House Bill 17); rerouting appeals cases to the full 15-member state appellate court (which is now majority Republican) instead of the now Democrat-majority state Supreme Court.
“[Republicans removed] the right to appeal directly to the State Supreme Court, requiring every case to be heard “en banc” that is, by the full court, in the Court of Appeals first, seats now held by a majority of Republicans,” said attorney Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
The legislature also created an eight-member state Board of Elections, and removed several key powers from the state Board of Education, transferring them to the new Republican superintendent of Public Instruction.
Civil rights activists were outraged.
“These are desperate losers, power mad White men, going beyond anything the Democrats ever did, willing to destroy any institution and the public’s hope for rational government just to keep a political advantage,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan public policy group.
“This is majority rule. We have elections. Elections have consequences,” Rep. Nelson Dollar [R-Wake] told members during Thursday’s special session.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB 17, which weakens Gov. Cooper once he takes office, into law Monday evening.
Angry Democrats called what the GOP did nothing short of a “power grab.”
“This has been a year of ineffective and reckless governing.,” state Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dan Blue [D-Wake] said on behalf of the Senate democratic Caucus Monday. “We have wasted thousands of dollars on divisive legislation that has created a larger wedge between parties and between the people.”
On the state House side, Minority Leader Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), called what happened a “disgrace.”
Let’s be 100 percent clear–the N.C. GOP lost the Governor’s race, and they lost the recount,” Rep. Hall said. “Now they want to steal the election after the fact. It’s a disgrace.”
State Rep. Cecil Brockman [D-Guilford] also expressed outrage.
“Last week we saw the ridiculous new lows the Republicans at the General Assembly will stoop to in order to cling to power. This surprise session, meant to undermine the authority of Governor-elect Roy Cooper, was an assault on democracy and an insult to voters. I strongly oppose this partisan power grab and will continue to support the voice of the people,” Rep. Brockman said.
N.C. NAACP Pres. Rev. Barber reminds all that since the GOP majority in the legislature came into power in 2011, they’ve had many of their laws overturned 13 times in court, and he expects no less once they’re sued again.
“We’re going to fight this with everything we have,” promised Barber.