On Friday the North Carolina Supreme Court voted 4-3 along party lines that state constitutional amendments put on the ballot by legislators elected from unconstitutional districts may not be valid. Amendments to the state constitution require approval by three-fifths majorities in both the NC House and Senate, and at the time the amendments were approved by the Republican-led legislature, some of the Republican legislators had been elected from districts that were determined by federal courts to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The case in question, brought by the NC NAACP over the state’s voter ID and income tax cap constitutional amendments, will return to the trial court for another hearing, but the court’s decision represents a significant victory for the NC NAACP’s argument that the state legislature does not have unlimited authority to amend the state constitution.
On Tuesday the North Carolina State Board of Elections unanimously approved proposed rule changes for partisan elections observers. The rule changes, designed in response to problems reported by county boards of elections with partisan poll watchers who behaved inappropriately during the May primaries, will clarify where elections observers can stand to prevent them from seeing confidential voter information. The NCSBE also voted to prohibit elected officials or people with professional roles in political campaigns, parties, or organizations from serving as precinct officials. The proposed rule changes will now go to the Rules Review Commission for final approval and possible temporary adoption in time for November’s elections.
On Wednesday U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen lifted the injunction stopping North Carolina’s 20-week abortion ban from taking effect, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision. The law now in effect means that abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy will be illegal with exceptions only in the case of certain medical emergencies. Osteen’s ruling also means that Republicans in the state legislature could pass more restrictive bans that would hold up in court if they got past Governor Cooper’s veto.