Key Quotes from Five Former Governors Warning Us About Two of the Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Photo credit: Jonah Kaplan

Every living former Governor of North Carolina just joined together to oppose two of the proposed constitutional amendments: one that essentially gives the state legislature the power to fill judicial vacancies and one that gives the state legislature the power to make appointments to hundreds of state boards.

Here are the two amendments as they will appear on your ballot (although litigation is pending):

And here’s a summary of all the amendments.

The press conference was about 45 minutes long. You can watch it here, or you can skim the key quotes below.

Gov. Jim Martin (R)

“After a career devoted to building a more competitive two-party system in our state, it’s embarrassing to me that it’s a legislature controlled by my Republican party that has hatched this scheme and thought they could get away with it.”

“It’s not about partisan politics — it’s about power politics and it must be stopped.”

“It would seem brilliant — I would say deviously brilliant — that they now propose these amendments to the constitution by inserting new language that would give them absolute power over both the executive and judicial branches.”

“This Republican majority today has not only tried to seize executive authority from a Democrat, but just a few years ago they were doing the same to a Republican. It would be a mistake to say this is a partisan fight — it’s legislators versus governors.”

Gov. Mike Easley (D)

“The first thing that struck me in looking at these amendments is how poorly they are drafted. It would take years and years for the courts to dissect these amendments and tell the public what they mean.”

“When somebody asks you to vote for a change in your constitution, you have the right to know what the amendment is. And if you don’t know, then vote no.”

“My overriding concern in all of this is not about the governor, or the legislature, or the judiciary, or any other office holder. Our overriding concern is about the people of North Carolina.”

“There would be one lawsuit after the other and it would go on for a long time… the state would be paralyzed. You would not have people confirmed for boards. You would not have people confirmed for commissions… When the state becomes paralyzed like this, those who suffer are not the officeholders, those who suffer are the people.”

Gov. Bev Perdue (D)

“I pray that the voters hear somehow that these two amendments are not good. That they’re dangerous, that they consolidate power into one legislative body.”

“As I read these amendments, I couldn’t find anything that did one thing to help the people of North Carolina.”

“Everything that goes on here should be open, transparent, and it should be about the people of North Carolina.”

“This General Assembly intends to have the power and to eliminate the citizens of North Carolina to speak up and to speak out.”

Gov. Pat McCrory (R)

“My advice to the hardworking legislators… if any of you want to take on the responsibilities of governor then have the courage to run for governor. And win. Earn it.”

“Don’t hijack our constitution…. Especially through two deceitful and misleading amendments which will be on the ballot which attempt to fool the citizens of our great state.”

“I ask the people of North Carolina to join these five former governors — to join us — in protecting our Constitution and the separation of powers, which is the basic framework of our democracy.”

“We must protect the democratic process. We must protect the separation of powers.”

Gov. Jim Hunt (D)

“This effort that we oppose on a strong bipartisan basis is against a few politicians in the legislature increasing their powers at the expense of the people of North Carolina.”

“It is a bad thing for the people of North Carolina.”

“It’s easy to talk about all these terms and all these ideas and they’re fine. But it’s really about whether or not a few politicians and the legislature will increase their power at the expense of the people of North Carolina.”