Judge Carl Fox makes a good ruling on Legislative Building rules

June 18, 2014 

Judge Carl Fox, an Orange County Superior Court judge holding court in Wake County last week, made a common-sense ruling in suspending some of the new rules governing crowds convening at the Legislative Building.

Republicans made the rules because of Moral Monday demonstrations, which began last session to protest the GOP’s tumultuous reign that included wrong-headed laws suppressing voter rights, cutting unemployment benefits, declining Medicaid expansion and bashing public education. The demonstrations grew to include thousands and resulted in more than 900 arrests.

So this time out, Republicans had new rules ready that prohibit people from “making a noise loud enough to impair others’ ability to conduct a conversation in a normal tone of voice” and provide for the arrest of those “creating an impediment to others’ free movement around the grounds.”

This week, 20 Moral Monday protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing.

The Legislative Building is the people’s house, and there remain questions about whether there ought to be any restrictions on people visiting. Last session’s demonstrations were peaceful, and GOP lawmakers likely could have helped themselves if they’d spent more time talking to demonstrators – which Senate leader Phil Berger finally did recently – and less time insulting them, as one legislator did when he referred to “Moron Mondays.”

Fox said some of the rules were too broad and suspended them. Attorney Irv Joyner, representing plaintiffs who objected to the rules, said, “We’re in a country born of protest, but in the General Assembly, they want to shut it down.”

That’s a pretty good summation of what has been going on. These demonstrators have consistently represented a cross-section of citizens, from blue collar workers to professionals to stay-at-home moms to teachers to those elderly citizens worried about their children and grandchildren. They all just want to be heard and have been civil in their actions.

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