NAACP threatens lawsuits over charter school and voter ID

NAACP threatens lawsuits over charter school and voter ID
June 14
05:00 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina civil rights leaders are threatening to sue the state over a recently passed law that allows mostly white communities near Charlotte to create their own charter schools and a potential new voter ID law.

“Legislating state-sponsored discrimination cannot continue without consequences,” North Carolina NAACP President T. Anthony Spearman said at a Monday, June 11, news conference.

Spearman called this year’s General Assembly the “suppression session.” He said his organization will join with fellow civil rights group Color of Change to urge Apple and Amazon not to put new campuses near Raleigh because of the proposals.

The charter school law passed last week without Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature because it is a local bill. It allows the mostly white and well-off Charlotte-area communities of Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius to apply to create charter schools outside Charlotte’s system.

The Charlotte branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held its own news conference last week to speak out against that bill.

“Lawmakers in Raleigh are taking us back to the future with unambiguous school segregation as state policy. But we cannot sit ideally by and let legislators take us back to the ’40s and ’50s. I’m not going back,” former Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Chairman Arthur Griffin said.

Supporters of the charter school bill said Charlotte’s school system has been unable to fix overcrowding in the rapidly growing suburbs and the proposal gives them some local control over schools.

The voter ID proposal is a constitutional amendment proposed last week by House Republicans. House Speaker Tim Moore and other GOP representatives filed Thursday, June 7, a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would ask voters to decide whether a photo ID requirement should be added to the current qualifications to vote. If the referendum is agreed to by the both Senate and House, the question would be on ballots statewide in November.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly passed a detailed photo ID law in 2013, but a federal appeals court determined three years later that the mandate and other restrictions contained in the measure were passed with discriminatory intent toward black voters.

GOP legislators rejected that determination, and said the law was designed to restore confidence in elections and prevent voter fraud.

“The voters of North Carolina deserve a chance to weigh in on securing their own rights in the democratic process, and will have the final say on strengthening election protections,” Moore said in a news release announcing the bill filing.

Constitutional proposals require yes votes from three-fifths of each chamber’s membership. Republicans hold enough seats to exceed that if they remain united. No timeline was released on considering the measure. The legislative session is expected to end by the end of the month.

“If it comes over to the Senate I’m confident it will enjoy wide support,” Senate leader Phil Berger said in an interview.

Spearman said that amendment, if passed, should also be struck down.

“Do not compromise the rights of people of color and the poor,” Spearman said.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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