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All former NC chief justices voice opposition to 2 amendments

As the North Carolina General Assembly leadership prepares its appeal to a Tuesday decision that would keep two of six proposed constitutional amendments off the November ballot, all six of the former chief justices of the state Supreme Court came out against them.

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By
Laura Leslie
, WRAL capitol bureau chief

As the North Carolina General Assembly leadership prepared Thursday to rewrite a pair of constitutional amendment proposals to satisfy a court ruling, all six of the former chief justices of the state Supreme Court came out against them.

In a statement Thursday, the retired justices – Rhoda B. Billings, James G. Exum, Henry E. Frye, I. Beverly Lake, Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. and Sarah E. Parker – added their names to a long list of lawyers and five former governors on both sides of the aisle who oppose the amendments.

"All of us will vote against these two amendments. We urge you to vote against them. And, we urge you to join us in advocating for their defeat," the lawyers wrote.

The amendments in question would change state law so that powers currently held by the governor would be taken over by the General Assembly. Specifically, they would change the process for judicial appointments, as well as appointments to the Board of Ethics and Elections enforcement and, potentially, hundreds of other state boards.

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 Tuesday that the language of the amendments was too misleading for the ballot. Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger filed a notice of appeal Wednesday to continue that case, but leadership also began gathering support from legislators to call the General Assembly back into session and rewrite the language.

Moore and Berger announced that session would begin Friday shortly after news broke that the six former justices opposed the amendments.

The statement from the attorneys and former justices Thursday indicated the group was fully against the amendments, not just against the ballot language legislators are now planning to change.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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