NC Legislature Faces Multiple Lawsuits in 2017 Over Laws

RALEIGH – The year 2016 was full of battles fought within North Carolina state legislature. In 2017, some of those battles will reach their ends not in legislative chambers, but most likely in court.

"It is pretty unprecedented to have this number of lawsuits at the state level and the federal level,” said David McLennan, a political professor at Meredith College. “That means there's always going to be a ruling that affects something in North Carolina."

From the still-controversial House Bill 2 to new congressional maps, the state will deal with more than a few legal battles in the new year. However, 2017's first political challenge will be the lawsuits concerning two bills currently under temporary restraining orders.

The first is House Bill 17, which takes powers away from Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Education and passes them to the new state superintendent. The Board of Education fired back quickly with legal action.

Cooper did the same with Senate Bill 4, a measure that combines the State Board of Elections and the Ethics Committee.

"The separation of powers clause plainly and clearly does not allow the General Assembly to take that much control over the execution of the laws from the Governor and lodge it within itself," said Cooper’s attorney Jim Phillips while presenting his case on Dec. 30.

Additionally, a federal appeals court ordered state lawmakers to redraw legislative districts before new elections this year after current districts were deemed racially drawn and unconstitutional.

The big fish is still HB2; The US Department of Justice sued North Carolina over the law and McLennan says the battle over the "bathroom bill" will likely end at the Supreme Court.

"It just has such major implications for not only North Carolina, but for a lot of other states,” said McLennan. “It also has implications for a group of people who are arguing for equal protection for other groups who we've seen protected in society."

So, 2017 may have a new governor, but those same old battles from 2016 are still lingering on.

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