A Statement On the Surprise Special Session

December 15, 2016
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
President, NC NAACP

The avalanche of anti-voter surprise bills introduced yesterday by the extremist leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly in a constitutionally suspect "extra session" is an insult to the democratic values held by all people of goodwill in this state. 

These changes represent deep violations of the Democratic process, and the faith that voters place in the elected process. To these legislators, who were elected under racially discriminatory redistricting plans, we say that this madness must end now and the people's vote must be respected.

The bills introduced for consideration restrict access to the North Carolina Supreme Courts, diminish the power of the newly progressive majority of the court and Judge Morgan, and give the general assembly the power to control and gridlock the functions of the State and Local Boards of Elections. These bills corrode fundamental principles of separation of powers. The bills introduced for consideration attack public education and the environment, rig democratic institutions, and attempt to control future elections with no public comment, no notice, and no attempt for bipartisan considerations that would include the voice of African Americans and other people of color and our chosen representatives. 

It is immoral, it is unconstitutional, and this illegal session is a direct attack on the people of North Carolina. For Rep. Lewis, who serves as the rules chair to in essence admit that they are introducing unjust laws because of the outcome of an election is shameful. The current Senate and House Republican caucuses who called this special session have no African American voices among them. These secret caucus meetings remind too many of us of Jim Crow governance. That is not democracy.  

Finally, we will not soon forget the way the victims of Hurricane Matthew have been used by this General Assembly. To convene in Raleigh under the pretext of a special session called by the Governor to provide relief to those affected by the hurricane and wildfires continues the worst of this extremist legislature's legacy: making unjust laws to give more power to themselves, on the backs of those most vulnerable, while continued cries of people suffering that deserve emergency action go immorally unanswered. The people of North Carolina will not soon forget these actions. And, mark our words, anyone who did not know it before this week, knows this now: the extremists who have taken over the North Carolina Republican Party can no longer be considered honest brokers by the citizens of this state or the country. 

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