Robinson Bradshaw Obtains Injunction in Challenge to Ballot Language



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Aug. 23, 2018

Robinson Bradshaw secured injunctive relief on behalf of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in a significant case involving proposals to amend the North Carolina Constitution. Gov. Cooper alleged that the language the legislature used to describe two proposed constitutional amendments on the November general election ballot violated the state constitution because it was misleading and did not sufficiently inform voters of the significant constitutional changes contained in the amendments.

After a full-day hearing before a panel of three judges, the majority agreed, releasing an opinion concluding "beyond a reasonable doubt that such language does not meet the requirements under the North Carolina Constitution for submission of the issues ... so that the voters may be fully informed of the question they are called upon to decide and in a manner to enable them intelligently to express their opinion upon it." The opinion ordered an injunction against the printing of ballots containing the misleading language.

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys John R. Wester, Adam K. Doerr and Erik R. Zimmerman argued in the proceedings on behalf of Gov. Cooper, joined by J. Dickson Phillips III and Morgan P. Abbott.

"Under our state system of government, [the value of the proposed amendments] is left to the voters, but a ballot question that does not fairly and accurately present proposed amendments to the voters amounts to a deceit, a deceit among the people, and it corrodes, and I suggest corrupts, their right and power to amend their constitution," Wester said during the proceedings.

"If you want to seek the consent of the voters to amend the constitution, you must ask them and you must tell them what you are doing," Doerr added.

To learn more about the case, please see a sampling of media coverage below.

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