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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House Bill 2 Repealed But Challenges Remain for LGBTQ Community

By Kevin Murphy

The repeal of House Bill 2 ends a year of high drama in The Old North State, but many challenges remain for the LGBTQ community. Gone is the clause prohibiting anyone from using a restroom other than that which corresponds to their birth certificate. But also missing is any protection affirmatively granting transgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming people the right to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

This vacuum is a return to the status quo pre-HB2. For publicly owned facilities, gone is the worry that using the restroom is against the law. Without any legal protection, however, the simple act of using the restroom continues to be dangerous in light of potential harassment or physical aggression from others in the bathroom.

As to private employers, it remains legal in North Carolina to deny someone employment or access to public accommodations on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity following this repeal. Local governments are powerless to provide otherwise until Dec. 1, 2020.

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HB2 ‘Repeal’: How Does It Change Employment Law?

Labor & Employment Section

By Laura J. Wetsch

On March 23, 2016, the General Assembly enacted, and Gov. McCrory signed, HB2, which became Session Law 2016-3.  On July 18, 2016, Gov. McCrory “approved” HB169 (the legislative “fix”), which became Session Law 2016-99.

On the one-year anniversary of HB2, the NCAA set a deadline of March 30, 2016, for North Carolina to repeal HB2 or be eliminated as a possible venue for hosting any NCAA championship games through 2022. Accordingly, on March 30 the General Assembly filed, passed, and Gov. Cooper signed, HB142, which repeals both S.L. 2016-3 and S.L. 2016-99, and amends NCGS § 143-760 (created by HB2) to prevent any “local government in this State” from enacting or amending “an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations” until Dec. 1, 2020 (at which point that provision expires), and preempt regulation of access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers or changing facilities by “State agencies, boards, offices, departments, institutions, branches of government, including the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College System, and political subdivisions of the State, including local boards of education,” “except in accordance with an act of the General Assembly.”

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Legislative Update

By Laura Wetsch and Faith Herndon

We are your legislative co-chairs for this long session.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen a number of bills that will potentially impact your practice or your clients.  Many of these bills are not likely to pass, but it is too soon to say which will die a lonely, miserable death in a rules committee.  We will try to keep you updated, but here’s the list of bills we are watching, so far:

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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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