Friday, August 10, 2018

Interesting Wrinkle in the Legal Challenge to the Berger/Moore Constitutional Amendments

This completely got by me last Tuesday:
In an unusual twist, one of the defendants in Cooper’s lawsuit, the state elections board, agreed with Cooper’s argument that the questions dealing with separation of powers and judicial appointments are misleading and should be kept off the ballot.

A state law requires the state elections board “present all questions in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.”
Solicitor General Matt Sawchak, who is representing the elections board and its chairman, Andy Penry, said the ballot questions failed to meet that standard.
They [the SBOE] “will be made a perpetrator of a constitutional violation,” Sawchak said.
The SBOE responded to being named a defendant in Governor Roy Cooper's suit to get two of the amendments thrown off the ballot. The SBOE agreed in Solicitor Gen'l Matt Sawchak's "crossclaim" that the public description of those amendments by the team of Phil Berger/Tim Moore amounted to an unconscionable lie.

Berger/Moore team's response. There's no law against it. There's nothing in law that says we can't claim what we want to claim about the content of constitutional amendments:
Martin Warf, a lawyer representing Republican House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, said there’s no statute or case law that sets a standard for ballot language.

“There’s no case that says we can hold up presentation [printing the ballots] based on the fact that the governor or the board of elections thinks they might be misleading,” Warf said.
Our entire state government -- normal, time-honored checks and balances -- hangs in the balance here. If the NCGOP can fool the voting public into buying what it might not buy if it understood the small print, or even knew there was small print, they'll be able to brag: "You might elect a governor, but we can make him irrelevant."

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