The North Carolina Court of Appeals has granted a stay of a Wake County Judge’s ruling pending review of the Writ of Supersedeas filed this week by state lawmakers.
The order from the Court of Appeals grants a stay motion requested by filed by Speaker Tim Moore and Senator Pro Tem Phil Berger and the ruling by Wake County Judge Bryan Collins is temporarily suspended.
The order also says that the court will consider the Writ of Supersedeas “upon the filing of a response to the petition” or no response is filed in the proper time frame.
March 1, Superior Court Judge George Bryan Collins, Jr. ruled that two out of four state constitutional amendments passed by North Carolina voters in 2018 were invalid because the State Legislature was itself “illegal.”
“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 wrote in his ruling.
“Although the ruling only directly invalidates the two laws that were challenged in the suit, under Judge Collins’s theory every act passed by the General Assembly between June 5, 2017, and December 31, 2018, is invalid,” says a statement issued at the time by the office of Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger.
State lawmakers filed a motion for a stay, which Judge Collins rejected. Lawmakers did not give up and immediately filed a Writ of Supersedeas, which similar to a stay of proceeding and which suspends a trial court’s judgment until an appeal is heard.
“The trial court became perhaps the first court in the country to invalidate legislation based on the theory that a state’s legislative branch was made up of so-called usurpers who could not pass valid laws,” the Writ of Supersedeas states.
Judge Collins’ ruling overturns two of the four state constitutional amendments passed by voters in 2018. The Voter ID and a state tax cap of 7% amendments both passed by wide margins, 10.98%, and 14.70% respectively. Over half of the total number of registered voters in North Carolina placed votes on each of the amendments.
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who was the state’s Attorney General from 2001-2017, was quoted by the Associated Press via Greensboro.com as saying Collins’ ruling “has a sound basis” in law and that the judge’s opinion was “well-reasoned opinion.”
Even one of the state’s largest media outlets disapproved, albeit in a partisanly defensive manner, by publishing an editorial titled “A liberal NC ruling that does liberals no favors.”
Former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson also questioned Collins’ ruling.
“My question is whether challenges to legislation would be limited to the past six years? NC has had legislatures determined to be illegally gerrymandered dating back to Gingles v Thornburg in the modern era,” Jackson said in a two-part Tweet.
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A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Photo “North Carolina Capitol” by Chanilim714. CC BY-SA 3.0.