Section CLE on Election Law, Campaign Finance, Redistricting and Related Issues is a “Must-Attend”

By Tom Segars

Are you keeping track of recent developments in North Carolina election law, campaign finance, gerrymandering litigation, and legislative redistricting?  If so, you know that merely following the news on these subjects could become a full-time job.

The Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section cordially invites you to take a deeper dive into these pressing issues at its December 13 Annual Section Meeting and CLE: Election Law, Money and Regulation in the Land of Fake News, Hyperpartisanship and the Twittersphere.  Come and learn from a uniquely knowledgeable group of lawyers, policy consultants, regulators, and legislators working on the front lines.

Links to the full program agenda and registration pages are set out below.  We hope to see you there!

Celebrating Constitution Day in North Carolina Schools

By Judge Christopher Brook

Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. This and every year the Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section of the North Carolina Bar Association celebrates Constitution Day by traveling the state and speaking with students about the history and continued relevance of this founding document.

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Section CLE and Save the Dates

CLE Recap and Online Replay

On Feb. 22, 2019, attorneys participated live and via webcast in the Section’s annual CLE (co-sponsored with the Government & Public Sector Section).  The program, entitled “In Tune or Off Key – Law, Government, Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities,” featured a number of presentations related to constitutional and other public sector litigation.  United States District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr., of the Eastern District of Virginia, provided a “view from the bench” on Section 1983 litigation.  Other presentations focused on injunctive relief in public-protest litigation and the constitutional implications of cost- and fee-assessments in litigation.  The program also featured a presentation on the ethical implications of data privacy for lawyers and a panel discussion of the social-justice impacts of recurring flooding and other environmental issues in North Carolina.

If you weren’t able to join us for the live CLE, you can still catch it online via video replay here.

Save the Dates

Finally, whether you were able to make the CLE or not, please mark two more dates on your calendar:  First, the Section is planning a “Lunch and Learn” for April 26, 2019.  Second, the Section will host a social event at Whiskey Kitchen on May 22, 2019, from 5:00 to 6:30.  We hope to see you!

Section’s John McNeill Smith Jr. Award Honors Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr.

Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr.

The Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section was pleased to honor Henry M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr., a titan of the civil rights movement, 43-year veteran of the North Carolina General Assembly, and champion of justice and equality through the law, at the Section’s annual CLE on Feb. 22, 2019.  Eric Doggett presented the Section’s John McNeill Smith Jr. Award to Michaux.  Michaux gave a moving acceptance speech, speaking about the challenges that he and his brother personally faced when entering the legal profession and the progress made by the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina State Bar in the years since then.  You can view Michaux’s remarks here.

Each year, the Section presents the award “to honor a person who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the ideals embodied in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of North Carolina.”  The Section found a more-than-worthy recipient in Michaux.

Save the Dates: Section Social and CLE Feb. 21-22

Please mark your calendar for Feb. 22, 2019, for “In Tune or Off Key – Law, Government, Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities,” this year’s Section CLE. Together with the Government & Public Sector Section, the Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section is sponsoring this program, which is described below. The program will offer six hours of CLE credit, including one hour of ethics credit. Learn more and register here. The Section will also host a social gathering (venue TBD) from 5:15 to 6:30 the evening before. We hope to see you at both events!

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Case Summary: NC State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory

By Nate Cook

Elon University School of Law May ’17[1]

Edited by Anthony Rascati, Elon University School of Law Dec. ’17 and Mike Casterlow, Elon University School of Law Dec. ’17

North Carolina State Conference of NAACP v. McCrory, 831 F.3d 204 (4th Cir. 2016).

On July 29, 2016, the 4th Circuit struck down North Carolina’s Voter ID law, finding that the law at issue “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision.”[2] This decision had an immediate impact, as it changed the rules for voting in the 2016 election. While elimination of the photo ID requirement was the most covered and discussed provision struck down by the court, other important provisions were changed by the court’s decision, such as the days allowed for early voting, the use of same-day registration, out-of-precinct provisional voting, and preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds. To fully understand the gravity of this case, one must look first to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was passed to prohibit racial discrimination at the ballot box. Furthermore, it is important to understand the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shelby County[3] case, and how that case has since changed the political landscape for election legislation across the country. As is frequently now the case, North Carolina’s political climate is a microcosm of American politics, where partisanship plays an ever-increasing role. Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have made many recent attempts to change voting and election procedures in the wake of Shelby County, and North Carolina led the march. The 4th Circuit’s decision in this case illustrates how courts may interpret voting rights cases post-Shelby County, and provides insight that is very valuable for anyone interested in American election law and voting rights.

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Case Summary: Raleigh Wake Citizens Ass’n v. Wake Cty. Bd. of Elections

By Anthony Rascati

Elon University School of Law Dec. ’17

Edited by Nate Cook, Elon University School of Law ’17 and Mike Casterlow, Elon University School of Law Dec. ’17

Raleigh Wake Citizens Ass’n v. Wake Cty. Bd. of Elections, 827 F.3d 333 (4th Cir. 2016)

Introduction and Background Information

This case involves the constitutionality of two session laws enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly, Session Law 2013-110 and Session Law 2015-4. On July 1, 2016, the 4th Circuit invalidated two laws passed by the General Assembly that established new districts for Wake County’s Board of Education seats and Wake County’s Board of County Commissioners, finding that the laws violated the one person, one vote principle under the Fourteenth Amendment. While district numbers may never be exactly the same in each district, the court’s decision in this case affirms the principle that “governments must ‘make an honest and good faith effort’ to construct districts as close to equal population ‘as is practicable.’”[1]

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Chair’s Comments: Council Hears Street Law Presentation, Addresses Budget Surplus

By Robert Ward

Our last meeting of the year was held on April 7, 2017, and began with a great presentation about NCCU’s Street Law Program by Professor Page Potter. Professor Potter first provided a historical overview of street law, and she then detailed NCCU’s Street Law Program, which is a course taught by law students on legal topics to Durham public schools middle or high school students in cooperation with their classroom teachers. Topics taught include contemporary law & justice – principally, Constitutional law; the Bill of Rights; landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases; Federal and North Carolina court systems; and criminal law and criminal trial process. Professor Potter’s presentation was interesting and enlightening to the council, particularly to those, including myself, who may not have been aware that a number of law schools have a street law course as part of their curriculum.

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Chair’s Comments: 2017-18 Officers Elected, Walter E. Dellinger III Honored, CLE on HB2 Held

By Robert Ward

The council held a brief meeting at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 9, 2017. John Branch, chair of the Law School Committee, reported on a potential law school forum program which may be considered during the fall of 2017. Colin Shive, editor for our blog, The Constitutionalist, related that there would be forthcoming blog articles. Patricia Perkins presented the treasurer’s report, and a discussion ensued regarding the use of any potential section budget surplus. In this connection, Andi Bradford will consult LRE for recommendations for council consideration at the next council meeting.

As has been the custom, the Annual Meeting of the Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section was held in conjunction with the section’s sponsored CLE. The topic this year was North Carolina House Bill 2. At noon, the section meeting convened and for the agenda the nomination committee submitted a slate of officers and members for consideration by the section. The first agenda item was the nomination of Chair Michele Luecking-Sunman and Vice Chair Patricia Perkins to be submitted to and recommended for appointment by NCBA President-Elect Caryn Coppedge McNeill. Second, Secretary Tami Fitzgerald and Treasurer Chris Brook were elected. Third, the section elected four new Council members: Leto Copeley, Scott Gaylord, Ann McColl and Tom Segars. I extend my congratulations to them on their election and commend them for their willingness to serve our section for the upcoming 2017-2018 council year.

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The Chair’s Comments

By Robert Ward

HB2 will be the subject of the Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section’s upcoming annual CLE on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Bar Center in Cary. During the section’s most recent council meeting, Eric Doggett, co-chair of our CLE committee, gave a brief summary and circulated a copy of the CLE program, which will focus on Session Law 2016-3 (House Bill2) Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. This program will include the following topics:  an HB2 overview; HB2 and the Constitution; HB2 and employment law; and panel discussions addressing the interplay between local and state authority and the status of pending court proceedings challenging HB2.  This CLE program will help to better understand the details of this law and its potential implications.  This program will be presented on please mark your calendars and plan to attend to earn CLE credit and learn about this timely statewide topic.

The council meeting on Nov. 17, 2016, at the Bar Center also included a great beginning with remarks from four students from The Cary Academy: Grace Jin, a senior; three juniors, Danielle Carr, Max Nunez and Margaret Velto; and their history and government teacher Maret Jones.  It continued with an explanation from them as to how they related their classroom study of the U.S. Constitution to current events.  As you might imagine, the discussion that ensued was very informative and entertaining.  One particular classroom project conducted by these students was the convening of a mock constitutional convention in which they went over the Constitution line by line in an effort to determine if and how it could be amended to better address our changing times.  Not surprisingly, these students concluded that the Constitution was very well written, and that underscores how it has withstood the test of time.  Also, when asked by the council, the students responded that they would make very few changes to this venerable document.  On behalf of the council I presented each student a certificate of appreciation, a reprint of the U.S. Constitution and a copy of the book “Constitutional Law for Kids” by Ursula Furi-Perry, published by the American Bar Association and provided by the NCBA’s Law Related Education Department.

Committee updates included Colin Shive’s report for our blog, The Constitutionalist.  He informed the council that the Sept. 2, 2016 blog post contained an article entitled, “Economic Liberty Challenges In the 21st Century” by Drew Erteschik and J. M. Durnovich. Blog Chair Colin Shive further reported that there would be forthcoming articles for our blog from students from Elon University School of Law.

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