Monday, May 12, 2014

The N.C. NAACP Asks Thom Tillis, Phil Berger and Other Lawmakers to Turn Over Documents about Their Motives for Proposing and Passing the Voter Suppression Bill

May 12, 2014

Contact: Sarah Bufkin, NC NAACP, 404.285.3413 or
Cynthia Gordy, Advancement Project, 718.755.4340 or

DURHAM, NC - The NC NAACP went into federal court in Winston-Salem last Friday to get the Court's help in obtaining emails and other documents that shed light on state legislators' real motives for disenfranchising tens of thousands of minorities, youth, senior citizens, women and disabled people with a law most experts believe is the worst voter suppression law passed since Jim Crow.

NAACP lawyers from the Advancement Project and Kirkland Ellis as well as NCCU law professor Irving Joyner and attorney Adam Stein of Chapel Hill argued that Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate Leader Phil Berger, Gov. Pat McCrory and others who promoted the law could not hide behind a blanket claim of legislative immunity. Penda Hair, Co-Director of Advancement Project argued for the NC NAACP. The League of Women Voters - represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice - and the United States - represented by the Department of Justice - also argued that the Court should order Tillis, Berger, McCrory and other state officials to turn over the evidence of their motives. 

Attorneys for McCrory, Tillis, Berger and their colleagues who promoted the disenfranchising law told the court there might be hundreds of thousands of e-mails involved. In turn, the Court told the packed courtroom it will soon set the dates for live testimony this summer on the NAACP's motion for preliminary injunction, to be filed on May 19. The parties said they expect the Court's decision on the Friday arguments soon.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP, who was present, commented:

"We believe the Constitution of the United States protects citizens from these attacks on our voting rights. It does not immunize legislators from having to reveal evidence about their real intentions for disenfranchising large portions of the changing electorate in North Carolina. We must remember how Speaker Tillis, Senate Leader Berger and their allies in the General Assembly passed this monster voter suppression law. They decided not to pass it before June 2013 because we would have immediately asked the U.S. Department of Justice to strike it down. They waited until the Supreme Court, by a slim 5-4 decision, ruled the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act was not needed any more. Then, three days before the end of the legislative session, with scant debate and token public input, they passed it in the midst of a flood of last-minute extremist legislation. Three days. Our legal challenge aims to resurrect how this voter suppression bill was produced. We aim to bring to light their reasons. We want the Court to consider all the available evidence about their intentions. For the Court to make a well-reasoned decision, it must consider the restrictive racial intentions of Tillis and Berger, strongly supported by Gov. McCrory. They want immunity from telling the truth. What are they trying to hide?

"We ask the court to stop the stonewalling. Minorities and other disenfranchised groups rarely have representatives in the backrooms where the real reasons for suppressing our votes are discussed. Let the truth come to daylight. These men are public officials. They are elected by the people of North Carolina and have sworn to legislate for the good of the whole. We have a right to know why they passed this collection of voter suppression policies with each provision designed to shrink the number of voters, not multiply us. Why?"

Sent from my iPhone


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