BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
If state lawmakers insert themselves into deciding North Carolina’s next governor, or changing the state Supreme Court to nullify Justice-elect Mike Morgan’s victory, there will be mass demonstrations and civil disobedience, promises NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber.
“We believe either attempting to stack the Supreme Court or deciding the governor’s race in the legislature is, and would be a major civil rights violation of the right to vote and equal protection under the law,” Rev. Barber told hundreds of demonstrators during Monday night’s Moral Monday march and rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh “We pledge to fight with every legal and moral tool we have, including if necessary, mass civil disobedience.”
Rev. Barber joined the ranks of those concern that the Republican majority in the NC General Assembly would appoint two new justices to the state’s High Court in order to offset the 4-3 Democratic majority Morgan’s Election Day victory resulted in. Thus far, GOP legislative leaders claim that they haven’t discussed it with their caucuses.
Barber’s warning comes as the State Board of Elections posted new unofficial number tallies in the gubernatorial race between Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, and his Democratic challenger state Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper. With all but 13 counties reporting in, Cooper leads McCrory by 9, 716 votes of 4.7 million cast, what some observers are saying is an insurmountable lead for the governor to overcome despite his legal action demanding a statewide recount, and specifically a recount of over 90,000 ballots in Durham County which were tabulated hours after polls closed on Nov. 8th because of mechanical problems.
McCrory wants those Durham ballots recounted by hand, but the Durham Elections Board previously rejected his campaign’s petition. At press time, the state Board of Elections was scheduled Wednesday to decide whether to order the Durham Board to proceed with the recount.
Meanwhile, the conservative Civitas Institute has filed a federal lawsuit, which will be heard in court on Dec. 8th, seeking to stop any certification of early voting ballots from same-day registrations, claiming that the addresses on those registrations were not confirmed before the ballots were cast.
During his remarks at the Moral Monday demonstration, Rev. Barber blasted what he saw was a deliberate manipulation of the election process by Republicans to deny communities of color their voting rights. He said NC NAACP lawyers would be in court Friday to challenge the Civitas lawsuit.
Barber also demanded that Gov. McCrory stop his attorneys from interfering with the post-election vote canvassing process with their many challenges and, thus far, “bogus allegations” of voter fraud.
“Pledge that after the canvass and recount, you will not try to get the legislature to take steps to unconstitutionally decide the governor’s race,” Rev. Barber added, noting that if the final margin of victory for Roy Cooper is below 10,000 votes, state law allows the Republican-led legislature to decide who the next governor will be.
Rev. Barber also warned that he expects the NC General Assembly to follow the ruling of the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals to redraw the congressional and legislative voting lines when it reconvenes in January. Several months ago, the federal court found the 2011 district maps unconstitutional because black voters were “stacked and packed” into “minority” districts solely because of race.
“We will be watching to see if the legislature continues to contemptuously thumb its nose at the federal courts,” Rev. Barber said. “We will go back into court with the first sign the legislature delays justice again, because justice delayed is justice denied.”