Gov. Cooper veto’s Anti-Riot Bill and Anti-Critical Race Theory Bills
By Cash Michaels
It should not have come as a surprise to any Republican state lawmaker that Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was going to veto their most controversial legislation this term.
Last week, Cooper vetoed House Bill 805 and House Bill 324. Both measures were seen by Democrats as, Republican over-reaches of First Amendment and educational freedoms, so much so that there is little chance of any Democrat joining GOP lawmakers in attempting to override Gov. Cooper’s veto.
As reported recently, HB 805, ratified by the Republican-majority NC House after winning approval in the GOP-led Senate, was purported to be a direct response to last summer’s protests and calls for racial justice and police accountability, proponents said.
But opponents, primarily Democrats, countered that it was an attempt to stifle peaceful protests.
“The bill is a clear attempt to suppress free speech and the right to assemble,” the progressive-leaning NC Justice Center said. “It also leaves the definition of a “riot” intentionally vague, thus granting police and prosecutors immense power to target Black, brown, and indigenous communities. By standing up for racial justice, those communities will be most hurt by the subjective legislation.”
Interestingly, a federal judge in Florida last Thursday ruled that state’s anti-riot law as unconstitutional as well, arguing that law’s language too vague,” [permitting] those in power to weaponize its enforcement against any group who wishes to express any message that the government disapproves of."
Gov. Roy Cooper agreed.
“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” said Cooper in a statement, explaining why he was vetoing the measure.
The Democratic governor also had sour grapes for the controversial HB324, which Republicans assured was an effort to prevent “indoctrination” by liberal teachers of students about racism, sexism, and America’s racist and sexist history.
Led by Black Republican NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, HB 324 mirrored similar so-called anti-Critical Race Theory laws in numerous other states.
“Republicans haven’t uncovered indoctrination in our schools,” said Democratic Senate leader Dan Blue (D-Wake). “What they have done with this bill is distract the public, and ourselves from the real work that we should be doing to improve our public schools.”
Again, Gov. Cooper and his veto were on the same page.
“The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools,” said the governor in a statement. “Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics in public education.”
Again, because Republicans do not have enough members in either the House or the Senate to constitute the required supermajority, the governor’s veto of HB 324 is expected to stand.
Thus far this term, Gov. Cooper has vetoed ten bills.