Let’s talks about some of the Amendments on the November 6th Ballot

Let’s talks about some of the Amendments on the November 6th Ballot

By Ian Morris

Comment below, or reach attorney Morris directly ian.morris@bridgehouse.law, or on Twitter @IMorrisOne

Early voting has started for the November 6th election in NC and our office is getting some questions about the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina constitution.  This is understandable as outside of the ongoing legal battles over two of them, they are not being discussed generally.  As constitutional amendments are serious business I will attempt to educate and entertain potential voters with a series of short articles, giving both my personal opinion on each amendment as well as resources where the reader can learn more.

As these amendments were all proposed by a Republican General Assembly, these matters are inherently political and I want to be clear that my opinion is my own and it is not my intention to tell anyone how to vote, only to spark conversation and administer shame where necessary.

I plan on addressing two amendments each Friday in a series of articles covering;

Amendments proposing a right to hunt and fish and victim’s rights, covered today;

Amendments proposing to allow change the way judicial vacancies are filled and change the way members are appointed to the Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement, covered on October 26th;

Amendments proposing to establish voter ID rules and limiting the income tax maximum, covered on November 2nd.

Now let us tackle what can only be considered red meat for the Republican masses, the perfect kind of emotionally titled amendments that demand new rights to the Olde North State constitution and are designed get like-minded people to the voting booth.

A constitutional right to hunt and fish has text that asks voters if they are for or against –

Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.

Full text here.

I don’t do near enough hunting or fishing anymore and while I really enjoy them I am not sure they need to be constitutionally protected.  While I could imagine some potential conflict in the future, this one is purely and offering to GOP voters to gin up support and get people to the voting booth. In addition to being irrelevant as no serious threat to the average Carolinian’s right to hunt and fish exists, there are proposed exceptions for restrictions aimed at promoting wildlife management, likely meaning the current restrictions will remain the status quo.

I do want to say I have read some points of view that say this is a veiled way of protecting Big Gun and NRA special interests and that is pure fear mongering, the same fear mongering these same commentators rightfully point out about the amendment.

The Victim’s right amendment or Marsy’s law asks voters if they are for or against –

Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights.

Full text here.

Here again we find the General Assembly using the triggering word, ‘rights.’  Who would not support a thing like victim’s rights?  What kind of black heart would deny victims’ rights?

Those familiar with our state’s criminal justice system might.  I do applaud the General Assembly for not creating a cause of action related to a failure to protect this right and for thinking about some of the potential unintended consequences.  My real concern with this new right is that it is likely to be very expensive and further slowdown the criminal justice system.  There must be serious costs associated with enacting such rights and a system by which they are administered even if automated would have be an ongoing, forever, expense.  I have read wildly varying numbers on these projected costs based on other states who have enacted similar ‘rights’.  Without a clear idea of how this program is funded and a final price tag, I am a hard NO here.

Not because I am a black hearted villain but because I think a better use of tax dollars would be spent on criminal justice reform in general and more training and resources for the prosecutor’s offices so that they can continue to keep victims informed about the progress of cases and the administration of justice.

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