Editorial: Defending our lives


A recent ruling by three federal judges, calling out two districts in different parts of North Carolina for being illegally drawn on the basis of race, is far from an isolated incident.

Time was that elected officials represented the people in the halls of power. Now, in this state, we have to defend our interests in the courts.

Late last month, a coalition that included consumer-rights advocates, health groups and whistleblower organizations filed suit against the state for its “anti-sunshine” law that allows large companies and corporate farms to sue anyone who documents violations of the law in their businesses.

The voter ID trial that wrapped in Winston-Salem last week was the result of the state NAACP and other groups — including the federal government — suing the state for writing new election laws that seemed designed to keep black voters from the polls.

In December, more than 80 of the North Carolina’s 100 school districts filed suit against the state to recover budget money earmarked for education — almost $50 million since 2011 — that was instead diverted to a fund that pays for people convicted of misdemeanors to stay in county jails.

Gov. Pat McCrory won his suit against the General Assembly, which had felt that they, and not he, should make appointments to state boards.

The city of Greensboro has been defending itself against legislative overreach since 2015, when a redistricting plan hatched in Raleigh was forced upon our electorate.

The Yadkin Riverkeeper sued Duke Energy to compel the company to clean up a 2014 coal-ash spill at its Buck plant, only when it became apparent that the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources would not defend the public waterway from contamination.

The 2012 marriage amendment was overturned by the Supreme Court. And now LGBT groups are suing the state for passing an amendment that allows magistrates to opt out of doing their jobs.

All this legal activity against legislative overreach covers just the last two years, undoing all the time spent drafting these illegal laws, ushering them through committee and getting them passed. It’s a phenomenal waste of resources on the part of the General Assembly, and a disturbing display of hubris from a body that seems to have forgotten where its power is supposed to come from.