By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
March 1, 2019
RALEIGH – “Over and again we’ve heard it said that elections have consequences. It’s critical that we participate in the process, that we are informed, and that we vote. But we are discovering with each passing year that these assertions mean nothing if you voted for something that was conservative,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Creech was referring to a recent judicial ruling by Wake County Superior Court Judge, G. Bryan Collins, which invalidated two constitutional amendments that were approved by voters during the last General Election. In the case, North Carolina State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Clean Air Carolina v. Tim Moore, in his official capacity, Philip Berger, in his official capacity, Collins knocked down the amendments that required a photo ID to vote, and the amendment that caps the state income tax at 7.0 percent.
Collins ruling reads, “An 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.”
Collins based his decision on a previous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, North Carolina v. Covington, which declared the North Carolina General Assembly was an “illegally gerrymandered body.” He said that because of this the General Assembly was no longer bestowed with the popular sovereignty necessary for approving constitutional amendments to go on the ballot.
On Spectrum News’ program, Capital Tonight, Representatives David Lewis (R-Harnett) and Grier Martin (D-Wake) joined anchor Tim Boyum to debate the Judge’s decision. Lewis told Boyum that Judge Collins’ ruling was “an affront to Democracy,” Martin said that he could “see the need for it.”
Lewis added that if one follows the logic of the Judge’s ruling, all of the issues that the General Assembly has tried to address in recent years, everything from raising teacher pay, to reforms of the criminal justice system, could be called into question, opening a Pandora’s box incentivizing additional litigation based on the Judge’s faulty premise.
Lewis went on to argue the General Assembly was not an illegal body. “If it were an illegal legislature the U.S. Supreme Court would not have tasked us [the General Assembly] to redraw the districts as it did in 2017,” he said. “If it were an illegal legislature the Supreme Court would have ordered elections to be held early. This is a trial court Judge that has overstepped his bounds.”
Martin countered that the Judge had limited his ruling only to the two constitutional amendments which were placed on the ballot because of the Republicans narrow supermajorities at that time, but Lewis countered this was only because the NAACP had not asked for anything else.
Boyum noted that Governor Roy Cooper had vetoed the last budget and that the General Assembly had overridden the veto by its narrow supermajority. He then asked Lewis, “Do you think then that the budget should be overturned as well because it also required a veto override?” Lewis replied, “I think it’s certainly the next step in the logic. I am very concerned about this because I think it sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Senator Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), who chairs the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee, said, “I am legitimately concerned about the future of our state and country with opinions like this abomination. One man with a political ax to grind invalidated millions of votes and potentially dozens of laws, including the state budget. Two million voters decided to add voter ID to their state constitution, but one Democrat on a power high is invalidating their will.”
In response to Judge Collins decision, Senate President Pro-Tempore, Phil Berger, said, “We are duty-bound to appeal this absurd decision. The prospect of invalidating 18 months of laws is the definition of chaos and confusion.” Berger added that based on the court’s opinion, “[I]t appears the idea of judicial restraint has completely left the state of North Carolina.” Judge Collins ruling confronts North Carolina with a profound reality. The political Left dominates the courts and usurps the rightful predominance of the Legislative Branch of government. The courts have become a conduit for the most radical and revolutionary ideas, forcing