Lawsuit to challenge constitutionality of bills passed during NCGA special session

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Common Cause NC will be teaming up with 10 North Carolinians in a lawsuit that questions a December 2016 legislative session.

The group is alleging that lawmakers rushed to hold the special session in order to keep the public in the dark.


Pat McCrory, who was governor at the time, requested the fourth special session for legislators to pass a measure for $201 million toward Hurricane Matthew and wildfire relief. Several organizations saw this as a power play for Republicans to throw in several other provisions, without giving a heads up to the public or allowing residents any input.

“We’re really focused more on the process. We feel like not having notification for the people — that this was even a session that was happening is a really important point to make. The legislation is a little bit of a secondary issue for us,” said Common Cause NC’s executive director Bob Phillips.

Common Cause and several North Carolina residents accuse lawmakers of rolling out a special legislative session with less than two hours’ notice and no public disclosure.

“There was a two-hour notice at noon on that December day,” said Phillips. “They announced that at two o’clock another special sessions would be held. The people, the reporters, many of the people in the minority party had no idea what was coming. That’s not how our government is supposed to work.”

The lawsuit will allege that lawmakers deprived “North Carolina citizens of their right ‘to instruct their representatives.’”

The claim will challenge the constitutionality of bills that were passed during the special session.
Some of the measures include laws that were passed that curbed now-Gov. Roy Cooper’s power, like Senate approval for his cabinet picks, which was challenged in court, but upheld.

Common Cause NC’s director of communications, Bryan Warner, told CBS North Carolina the defendants in the lawsuit are the North Carolina House and Senate leaders.

The group announced the lawsuit Wednesday morning at 10:30 in front of the legislative building.

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