A Wake County judge has issued a temporary restraining order against
three parts of a controversial set of building rules passed by General Assembly lawmakers this summer. The ruling came about from a complaint filed by the
North Carolina NAACP.
The Legislative Services Commission passed the new
rules this June just as Moral Monday protests were ramping up.
Moral Monday called the rules a “blatant attempt to silence
the Moral Mondays protests.”
The broad new rules, ostensibly passed to bring some
regulations into compliance with the N.C. Constitution, prohibited
“disturbances” and “imminent disturbances.” This was further
clarified as: talking loudly, clapping, chanting, or playing
music. Citizens were expected to talk in a “normal” tone of voice
while in the Legislative Building.
Judge Carl Fox of Wake County Superior Court, ruled
against this specific provision, since what counts as a “normal” voice differs from
person to person.
Judge Fox upheld the new rules ban on creating a “disturbance” or
an “imminent disturbance.”
Another provision in the new rules prohibited citizens from impeding
or obstructing doors, stairways, or hallways in the legislative
chamber. Judge Fox ruled that given that the Legislative Building
was public, the GA did not have the right to impede
free movement. Thirdly, Judge Fox temporarily enjoined a new rule
that blocked signs that could be “used to disturb the General Assembly”
as over-broad and vague.
“This decision is a tremendous victory for protecting the time-honored principle of the ‘Rule of Law,” said Atty. Irv Joyner, NCCU Law professor and a member of the NC NAACP legal team.
Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NAACP said, “What Speaker Tillis tried to do in the dark has now come to the light in the courts, and it has been found wanting. We would not be silenced by these rules changes this session, and we look forward to returning to the People’s House this Monday to petition our lawmakers for the redress of grievances as is our constitutional right.”