The efforts by the North Carolina Senate to require constitutional challenges to state laws go before specially designated three judge panels continues apace. The chamber yesterday voted yet again for the plan that was added as an amendment to another bill. To review:
May 31: Senate amends the state’s budget (SB 744) to include a provision that requires all constitutional challenges to state laws go before a panel of three judges picked by the Chief Justice. A decision by this court to strike down a law would automatically be stayed (i.e. the law found unconstitutional would remain in effect) and the matter appealed directly to the Supreme Court. Interestingly, the three judge panel would heavily favor certain judicial divisions.
- 1 judge from First or Second Judicial Division
- 1 from Seventh or Eighth
- 1 from Third, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth
The immediate cause for the move appears to have been the striking down of a 2013 NC law that would strip teachers of tenure in exchange for raises. Prior coverage here.
June 10: House leadership comes out with its revisions to SB 744 and drops any reference to the three-judge panel idea. Coverage here.
June 11: The Senate Judiciary I Committee amends a bill on changes to torts/liability and the powers of the Attorney General (SB 648) to include the three-judge panel and automatic stay provisions on SB 744 (Committee substitute to SB 648).
June 12: Full Senate approves committee substitute to SB 648 and sends it to the House.
Update: Gavel Grab has more details here.