Bill barring compelled speech in state hiring heads to governor’s desk

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is shown in this file photo. Creative Commons

RALEIGH — A bill barring compelled speech in state hiring and workplaces received final approval from the General Assembly on June 6 and will head to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.  

Senate Bill 364, titled Nondiscrimination and Dignity in State Work, passed both chambers with veto-proof margins. 

The Senate voted to concur with the House by a vote of 30-15. Despite the vote being mainly down party lines, three Democrats voted to concur: Sens. Sydney Batch (D-Wake), Marry Wills Bode (D-Wake) and Kandie Smith (D-Pitt). 

On May 31, the House passed the measure by a vote of 72-46 with no Democrats supporting the bill. 

If enacted, the bill will add two new sections to the North Carolina Human Resources Act. 

One section would prohibit any state agency, department or institution from compelling or soliciting an applicant for employment to “endorse or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition of employment.”  

Similarly, requiring or compelling an applicant to show proof of support or opposition to any given topic would also be prohibited. 

The prohibitions on compelled speech would not bar anyone from sharing their beliefs voluntarily or block discussions of an applicant’s educational background, qualifications or similar questions related to legal hiring practices. 

Senate Bill 364 also contains a prohibition on the promotion of certain elements, some of which are components of the controversial Critical Race Theory.  

Under the bill, “promote” is defined as compelling state employees to affirm or profess belief in the following concepts: 

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex. 
  2. An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive. 
  3. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex. 
  4. An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex. 
  5. An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. 
  6. Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress. 
  7. A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist. 
  8. The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex. 
  9. The United States government should be violently overthrown. 
  10. Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex. 
  11. The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups. 
  12. All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
  13. Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. 

The section barring these elements is also found in House Bill 187, titled Equality in Education. That bill made it through the crossover deadline despite all House Democrats voting down the measure. 

Following the Senate’s June 6 vote, Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) told reporters that Republicans believe “it’s important to have the right, or at least have in statute, the protection of people’s rights to their own opinions … especially in instances where those opinions have nothing to do with the job” a person is being asked to do. 

According to The Associated Press, Sen. Lisa Grafstein said she thinks Cooper should veto the bill. Grafstein applauded “implicit bias training” offered to state employees while dismissing the bill as “kind of a culture war reaction not based in any actual concerns that have been expressed by state employees.” 

About A.P. Dillon 1133 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_