Cooper Refused to Sign Four Bills, So They Passed Into Law

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper perhaps wore out his veto stamp as he refused to sign four bills and returned them to the legislature.

Bills that go unsigned by the governor in North Carolina automatically pass into law.

The four bills are:

  • House Bill 527: An Act to Restore and Preserve Free Speech on the Campuses of the Constituent Institutions of the University of North Carolina
  • House Bill 528: An Act to Make Technical, Clarifying, and Other Modifications to the Current Operations Appropriations Act of 2017
  • House Bill 704: An Act to Establish the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units
  • House Bill 719: An Act to Allocate the Parking Spaces in the Upper Level of State Parking Deck 65 to the Legislative Services Commission to Support Security Measures for the Legislative Complex

Governor Cooper’s press release offered no explanation for not signing the four bills. None of the Governor’s social media accounts offered an explanation either.

Cooper has racked up 9 vetoes in just 7 months in office. That’s 3 more than his predecessor Pat McCrory had over the span of his four year term.

Cooper sent a proclamation to the General Assembly asking for them to take up his vetoes and reconvene yesterday (August 3rd).

A Win For Campus Free Speech

American Lens has been following one of these bills – House Bill 527, also known as the Campus Free Speech Act.

Lt. Governor Dan Forest was an early proponent of the Campus Free Speech Act. Forest took to social media to share the news.

About the Campus Free Speech Act

The law clears the way for removal of  restrictive speech codes that chill free speech on North Carolina college campuses.

The law instructs campuses to adopt a discipline policy that would punish students who shout down visiting speakers or deprive others of their right to free expression, a tactic commonly known as the “hecklers’ veto”.

A provision of the law allows anyone that has had their free speech rights infringed to sue the university and recover court costs and attorney fees.

Another requirement in the law holds that freshman orientation include a session on the promotion of free expression on campus.

Related: Protecting Free Speech is an “Extreme Agenda” According to NC Representative

The law includes an enforcement provision that limits colleges from restricting speech activities. A college may only implement restrictions if they satisfy specific criteria:

  • It becomes necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest.
  • The action is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
  • Ample other opportunities are provided to engage in the expressive conduct.
  • Provides for spontaneous assembly and distribution of literature.
NC First To Implement Goldwater Proposal

Stanley Kurtz at National Review Online noticed the bill passing into law without Cooper’s signature, whereas the Lt. Governor led the way.

“With the passage of the first state law based on that model, Forest has established himself as a national leader on campus free speech,” Kurtz wrote.

Kurtz’s column applauds NC for being the first state to enact, “comprehensive campus free-speech legislation based on the Goldwater proposal.”

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