RALEIGH — The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law (NCICL) announced its return earlier this month, promising a “laser-like focus on educating the public” about the limiting principals of the North Carolina Constitution and holding elected officials accountable to their oaths of office.
“It is important to have an organization with laser-like focus to promote liberty by encouraging a limited and transparent government and promoting free enterprise through a greater understanding of the North Carolina Constitution,” Jeanette Doran, president and general counsel of NCICL, said in a press release.
In a show of support, former N.C. Supreme Court Justices Bob Edmunds and Bob Hunter both joined Doran at a re-launch event that was held on Sept. 12 in Raleigh.
The group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies on voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations for funding and is not affiliated with any government entity.
Doran told North State Journal that when the organization went dormant several years ago, it was because the board had decided to “step back” in order to determine the best way NCICL could work to make sure that state and local governments were “adhering to their constitutional limitations.”
“We’re going to focus on three principle subject areas – election law and redistricting, regulatory reform and education law,” said Doran about the current direction for NCICL, which also includes litigation.
“I’m an attorney, and we would have resources to litigate either in-house or retain outside counsel,” said Doran.
Doran said that the organization wants to work collaboratively with state and local government officials, as well as legislators and policymakers to address potential constitutional violations before they happen.
When it comes to education law, Doran said the group would be investing its resources into preserving education law reforms from the last several years
“There are people who would put those reforms in a shredder if given the opportunity, but we’re not going to let that happen,” said Doran.
Regulatory reform and the separation of powers is also high on the NCICL list.
“Executive branch agencies can only promulgate rules and regulations to the extent that they have statutory authorities to do that,” Doran said. “Right now, we don’t have enough people paying attention to whether or not there is statutory authority.”
Doran said that in addition to education law and regulatory reform, the group will respond to other unique situations. Doran said statements by Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) were an example of an event the group would respond to. Butler said during the House veto override session that, “We’re downstairs right now trying to redraw partisan-heavy voting maps.”
The organization has already filed records requests related to Butler’s floor comments and Doran indicated that she has asked for maps as well as “communications, data and any work product related to the redistricting they are undertaking.” Doran said that those requests were sent to Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) and Butler.
“They’ve claimed they don’t have the maps,” said Doran. “I have been told that Darren Jackson insists they don’t even have map-making software and couldn’t draw maps. I don’t know, maybe they are running around the basement of the legislative building with a box of crayons, but she was crystal clear in her statement.”