Federal judge dismisses ACLU lawsuit over 2023 anti-rioting law

The lawsuit was brought in 2023 over House Bill 40

North Carolina voters in the Tuesday's primary election were choosing nominees for president and a host of other positions, from governor and attorney general to seats in the U.S. House — including Speaker Tim Moore's race in the 14th District — the General Assembly and state judgeships. (Andrew Harnik / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — A federal judge has dismissed the case brought by the ACLU of North Carolina against the state’s 2023 law enacting harsher penalties for rioters in an order issued on June 25.

In her order, Judge Loretta Biggs of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina granted the defendants motion to dismiss, writing that the plaintiffs “failed to state a claim under each of its claims that the Anti-Riot Act is overly broad or void for vagueness in violation of the United States Constitution or the North Carolina Constitution.”


The lawsuit was a challenge to House Bill 40 (Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder), which became Session Law 2023-6 at the end of March 2023 without the governor’s signature.

The ACLU of North Carolina filed the lawsuit in April 2023 and named North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, Guilford County District Attorney Michelle Crump and Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman as the defendants instead of the lawmakers involved in passage of the law.

House Bill 40 was filed and sponsored by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain). In a prior legislative session, Moore filed a nearly identical bill which passed both chambers, however, Cooper vetoed it.

After House Bill 40 passed into law without his signature, Cooper issued a short statement that he acknowledged “changes were made to modify this legislation’s effect after my veto of a similar bill last year.”

Cooper’s statement went on to say, “Property damage and violence are already illegal and my continuing concerns about the erosion of the First Amendment and the disparate impacts on communities of color will prevent me from signing this legislation.”

About A.P. Dillon 1342 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_