NCAE Wins Lawsuit on the One-Year Anniversary of the Midnight Session

Jan 03, 2013, 12:58 ET from North Carolina Association of Educators

RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) announced that the organization has won its legal challenge on the law banning payroll dues deduction for its members.

In January 2012, the General Assembly enacted a law in a midnight session preventing members of NCAE from having their dues deducted automatically from their paychecks. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner held that the dues deduction law "is permanently enjoined because it constitutes retaliatory viewpoint discrimination" in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the North Carolina Constitution. The court agreed with NCAE's position that by targeting the Association in retaliation for its perceived political viewpoint, the law violated the free speech rights of NCAE and its members. 

NCAE President Rodney Ellis issued the following statement on the court's order:  "We are extremely pleased with the court's decision in this important case, especially the court's recognition that our members have a constitutional right to express their views on issues important to the education community. Standing up for those views is the very reason NCAE initiated this lawsuit."

The ruling brings closure to a year-long process. After the midnight session, NCAE immediately filed suit on the grounds that the new law was unconstitutional, and obtained a temporary restraining order blocking the law.  In May 2012, the Wake County Superior Court found that NCAE was "likely to succeed on the merits" of its claims and issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the law from being enforced while the case was pending. In December 2012, NCAE filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, seeking a final order from the Court on the merits of its claim for retaliatory viewpoint discrimination. The court issued its ruling in December on these grounds. With a permanent injunction issued on this basis, the Court did not have to reach the final merits on other claims.

While the ruling leaves no doubt that the January 2012 legislative action was an attempt to silence the education advocacy organization, the threat of permanently losing payroll deduction is something NCAE must still contend with if the General Assembly chooses to end the payroll deduction process for all employee organizations.

Having this closure allows NCAE to focus on the significant issues facing public education, Ellis stated.  "NCAE stands ready to work constructively with the new administration and legislative leaders to find solutions to the challenges facing our public schools. It is far more constructive for us to have an open and honest dialogue so that we can better understand the concerns of lawmakers and so that they can better understand the realities of the classroom."

Through this successful legal battle, NCAE was represented by attorneys Bob Orr and Drew Erteschik of the Poyner Spruill law firm.

NCAE is the state's largest education organization, representing active, retired and student members.

SOURCE North Carolina Association of Educators