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Veto fatigue is here, but court battles are coming soon
While there's little drama about whether three consequential bills will become law, what comes next is a huge open question
Three of the most consequential bills of the year met Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto pen last week, but the drama could hardly be lower. For now, at least.
Instead, what’s really striking is how perfunctory the whole exercise has become. Perhaps it’s just the summer doldrums, but I think there’s more to it than that. What North Carolina politics is really facing right now is veto fatigue.
Cooper’s first few vetoes of this session were highly orchestrated affairs, calculated for maximum drama and political pressure. They failed.
Next, Cooper started vetoing bills left and right, even relatively uncontroversial ones. That failed, too: The House overrode a half dozen of them at a time, with growing Democrat support.
Now with these three hot-button bills, the process has become almost mechanical. The frenetic energy of April and May has all but dissipated. There’s no longer a question of whether the vetoes will be overridden. It’s strictly a matter of when.
File away the concept of veto fatigue for another day. I think it will play a pretty major role in 2024, with an exhausted electorate ready to vote for low-drama candidates. By and large, that will benefit Republicans — with the potential exception of the governor race.
In the meantime, however, it’s worth taking a quick step back and revisiting what these three bills do. Especially because the inevitable override vote will not end the story for any of them.
Parents’ Bill of Rights (Senate Bill 49). This bill requires school districts to provide more transparency around curriculum and instructional materials and prevents school officials from keeping secrets from parents or instructing young elementary school children in gender identity and sexuality. You can read a full breakdown of the bill here.
Fairness in Women’s Sports Act (House Bill 574). This bill prevents males from playing on girls’ and women’s sports teams at the middle school, high school or collegiate level.
Gender transition for minors bill (House Bill 808). This bill makes it illegal for doctors to perform irreversible sex reassignment surgeries on children or to prescribe them experimental puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones.
These three vetoes are likely to be overridden this week. The latter two are scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, though the Parents’ Bill of Rights does not yet have one on the calendar.
You can count on all three to remain major political issues for the remainder of the year and beyond.
While the veto override votes feel certain, what comes next for all three of them is anything but. One will dominate the political discussion this fall, while the other two are likely to eventually be fodder for the U.S. Supreme Court.
If Florida is any example, the fallout from the Parents’ Bill of Rights will likely play out in the media starting when children return to public school next month. You’ll undoubtedly have school districts performatively remove books from their library shelves and declare censorship, extensively covered in the news.
There will also be bumps in the road with how school districts implement the new transparency requirement the law will bring. But by and large, this bill should stay out of the legal arena.
Not so much for the other two.
Whether or not states can restrict medical procedures is very much an open constitutional question, as this Texas Law Review article explores. The same author later dove into the messy legal precedent around minors and medical consent, finding that parents are typically given a lot of leeway to decide on medical procedures for their children, up to a point.
These law articles are both more than a decade old, though — long before the transgender medical care issue was on anybody’s radar. Similar laws in other states have already been put on hold by federal courts, and I fully expect the fate of North Carolina’s law to ultimately lie with the Supreme Court.
The same goes for the girls’ sports bill. It relies on a different interpretation of Title IX and civil rights legislation than the one en vogue with the Biden administration, and it’s far from a settled legal matter. Just like with the medical procedure legislation, similar laws in other states are still winding their way through the court system. It will likely take another U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle the matter.
North Carolina is no stranger to years-long court battles over its laws. Get ready for another round.
Catch up quick
House Speaker Tim Moore’s lawsuit is “resolved”
Though no details were disclosed, the salacious lawsuit involving House Speaker Tim Moore’s relationship with a state employee has reportedly been “resolved,” according to attorneys on both sides.
Pat McCrory’s “No Labels” group is close to N.C. ballot access in 2024
No Labels — a national group that opposes both Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and President Joe Biden — is very close to getting access to North Carolina’s ballot in 2024. Former Gov. Pat McCrory is one of the group’s most public spokesmen, alongside former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.
It’s unclear who the group’s candidate would be, though McCrory has said definitely it will not be him. The State Board of Elections was set to formally approve the organization’s party status but ultimately delayed the decision.
UNC to offer free tuition to families earning less than $80,0000 per year
UNC-Chapel Hill’s chancellor announced a new program that would cover the tuition and fees for any in-state undergraduate student from a family earning less than $80,000 per year. It’s the first major change since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the university’s race-based admissions policy.
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