2015 Legislative Session a Major Setback for Civil Liberties, According to ACLU-NC Report Card

October 20, 2015 10:45 am

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RALEIGH – The North Carolina General Assembly’s 2015 session witnessed major setbacks for civil liberties in North Carolina, according to a legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC).

The statewide civil liberties group graded North Carolina House and Senate members’ votes on five key bills, respectively, all of which the ACLU-NC opposed for their negative impact on civil liberties. Three of the bills graded were signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, and a fourth is awaiting his signature or veto. The group also issued grades for votes on two bills that did not become law and were voted on by only one of the two chambers.

The votes graded were on the following bills and issues:

  • LGBT Equality: The House and Senate approved and overrode Gov. McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, which allows magistrates and other government officials to opt-out of conducting marriages for legally eligible couples. Sponsors said the bill was a response to same-sex couples winning the freedom to marry in North Carolina.
  • Capital Punishment: The House and Senate approved and Gov. McCrory signed HB 774, which allows the state to hide the source of drugs used in executions and removes the requirement that a doctor be present at all executions.
  • Reproductive Justice: The House and Senate approved and Gov. McCrory signed HB 465, which tripled the mandatory waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion to 72 hours.
  • Immigrants’ Rights: The House and Senate approved HB 318, which prohibits local governments from adopting so-called “sanctuary” ordinances limiting enforcement of federal immigration law, prohibits some government officials from accepting various forms of ID cards, and expands the use of E-verify. The bill is awaiting Gov. McCrory’s signature or veto.
  • Nondiscrimination: The House voted to send SB 279 back to committee, effectively killing the bill that would have stripped local governments of their ability to pass anti-discrimination ordinances related to employment, housing, and public accommodations.
  • Juvenile Justice: The Senate voted on SB 343, which would have created a new felony penalty for students aged 16 and older who are found guilty of assaulting school personnel. Such acts are already criminal and the bill would have exacerbated the school-to-prison pipeline.

In the House, 22 members voted 100% in line with the ACLU-NC’s position on these issues, while 33 members voted in favor of the ACLU-NC’s position 0% of the time. In the Senate, 11 members voted in line with the ACLU-NC’s position 100% of the time and 20 members voted in favor of the ACLU-NC’s position 0% of the time.

View the report card online at acluofnc.org or https://acluofnorthcarolina.org/files/legislative/aclunc_2015_legislative_report_card.pdf

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