A former state supreme court justice is speaking out against a recently passed law that will make it harder to challenge new legislation.
Right now, any superior court judge in North Carolina can rule on cases from people who believe their rights have been violated by new laws. But former Supreme Court Judge James Exum, Jr., who served as the state's top judge for eight years, says now all those cases are headed to Raleigh.
"This just makes it terribly inconvenient for lawyers and citizens to make these challenges in the first place," Exum says. "They should be able to make these judicial challenges where they live."
The new law creates a three-judge panel picked by the chief justice, who is appointed by the governor. Republican lawmakers say the panel is needed because judges are keeping laws from being enacted. Last week, for example, a Wake County superior court judge determined that it is unconstitutional to give publicly-funded education vouchers for private schools.
Exum says the current court system can handle the cases and the new panel is an overreach by the legislature.
"It really encroaches on the fundamental and inherent powers that the North Carolina constitution gives to our courts," Exum says.
The three-judge panel, which has not yet been chosen, is scheduled to begin work in September.