North Carolina State Legislature Cannot Mislead Voters to Entrench the GOP In Power

August 14, 2018

The Brennan Center and Democracy North Carolina today filed a friend-of-the-court brief to stop North Carolina’s legislature from using misleading language on two ballot initiatives to amend the state constitution. The proposals going before voters this fall would substantially reorganize state government in favor of the GOP-dominated legislature, which has repeatedly engaged in gerrymandering and other anti-democratic tactics to cement the majority party’s power.

One amendment would give the North Carolina General Assembly the power to appoint all members of the state election board, other state boards, and commissions currently chosen by the governor, while the other would allow the legislature to fill judicial vacancies with political appointees. Both measures would consolidate power with the current Republican majority against future losses in voter support.

“This is no ordinary effort to mislead voters,” said Daniel I. Weiner, senior counsel with the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “This is the latest in a series of actions designed to entrench one party in power. Such tactics cannot be squared with basic principles of representative government.”

“A key principle of our constitutional democracy is that a temporary legislative majority should not be able to change the rules to give itself a permanent advantage,” said Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “If other branches of government do not respect these guardrails, courts must intervene.”

“These deceptive amendments are the latest in a long line of attempts by North Carolina leaders to change up the rules and cement their power,” said Tomas Lopez, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “We’ve seen it over the years from across partisan lines, but that’s no excuse. Voters deserve a transparent system that can truly reflect their interests – not another sham process concocted at their expense.”

The brief was filed with the assistance of a team of lawyers led by Andrew H. Erteschik, a partner in the Raleigh office of Poyner Spruill, LLP.

Read the Brennan Center and Democracy North Carolina’s full amicus brief in Cooper v. Berger, et al. here, and a related brief we filed with the North Carolina Supreme Court last year.

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on government and court reform here.

For more information or to connect with an expert at the Brennan Center, contact Trip Eggert at (646) 925-8754 or eggertt@brennan.law.nyu.edu.

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