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Davis, Mark - Local Bills Requiring Photo Identification

Davis, Mark - Local Bills Requiring Photo Identification

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StateofNorthCarolina
ROYCOOPER
ATTORNEYGENERAL
DepartmentofJustice
POBox629
Raleigh,NorthCarolina
27602
REPLYTO:GraysonG.Kelley(919)716-6400FAX:(919)716-0135
November23,2011MarkA.Davis,GeneralCounselOfficeoftheGovernor20301MailServiceCenterRaleigh,NorthCarolina27699-0301Re:LocalBillsRequiringPhotoVoterIdentificationDearMark:YouhaveadvisedthisOfficethatanumberofcountyboardsofcommissionershaverecentlypassedresolutionsrequestingtheGeneralAssemblytoenactlocalbillsrequiringphotoidentificationofvoterspriortovoting.HouseBill351,"AnActtoRestoreConfidenceinGovernmentbyRequiringthatVotersProvidePhotoIdentificationBeforeVoting,"wasadoptedbythe2011SessionoftheGeneralAssembly,butvetoedbytheGovernor.AbeliefhasbeenexpressedthatsomemembersoftheGeneralAssemblyareadvocatingastrategythroughwhichphotovoteridentificationrequirementsmaybeimposedonastatewidebasisbytheenactmentofmultiplelocalbillscoveringallcounties.Youhaverequestedouropinionastowhethersuchbills,ifenacted,wouldbeinviolationoftheUnitedStatesorNorthCarolinaConstitution.ArticleXIV,Section3oftheNorthCarolinaConstitutionrequiresgenerallaws,ratherthanspecialorlocalacts,tobeadoptedwhendealingwithlaws"uniformlyapplicableinevery...unitoflocalgovernment."Initsentirety,itstates:WhenevertheGeneralAssemblyisdirectedorauthorizedbythisConstitutiontoenactgenerallaws,orgenerallawsuniformlyapplicablethroughouttheState,orgenerallawsuniformlyapplicableineverycounty,cityandtown,andotherunitoflocalgovernment,orineverylocalcourtdistrict,
nospecialorlocalactshallbeenactedconcerningthesubjectmatterdirectedorauthorizedtobeaccomplishedbygeneraloruniformlyapplicablelaws,andanyamendmentorrepeal
of
anylawrelatingtosuchsubjectmattershallalsobegeneralanduniforminitseffectthroughouttheState.
Generallawsmaybeenactedforclassesdefinedbypopulationorother
 
November23,2011Page2criteria.Generallawsuniformlyapplicablethroughoutthestateshallbemadeapplicablewithoutclassificationorexceptionineveryunitoflocalgovernmentoflikekind,suchaseverycounty,oreverycityandtown,butneednotbemadeapplicableineveryunitoflocalgovernmentinthestate.Generallawsuniformlyapplicableineverycounty,cityandtown,andotherunitoflocalgovernment,orineverylocalcourtdistrict,shallbemadeapplicablewithoutclassificationorexceptionineveryunitoflocalgovernment,orineverylocalcourtdistrict,asthecasemaybe.TheGeneralAssemblymayatanytimerepealanyspecial,local,orprivateact.N.C.CONST.,art.IV,
§
3.(Emphasissupplied.)ProfessorJohnOrth,inhistreatiseentitled"TheNorthCarolinaStateConstitution"discussesthehistoryofArticleXIV,Section3,andexplainsthatinitsdefinitionof"generallaws,"thesectionprovidesnotsomuchadefinitionbutanexplicationofwhatagenerallawisnot.Heopinesthatthebestdefinitionofa"generallaw"maybetheonegivenbySirWilliamBlackstonein1765:"Ageneralorpublicactisanuniversalrule,thatregardsthewholecommunity....Specialorprivateactsareratherexceptionsthanrules,beingthosewhichonlyoperateuponparticularpersons,andprivateconcerns."Orth,p.166(quotingBlackstone,Commentaries1:85-86).TheNorthCarolinaSupremeCourthasbeencalledontodeterminewhetherabillisalocalorgenerallaw.Thecourthasdefined"locallaw"tomean:[P]rimarilyatleast,alawthatinfact,ifnotinform,isconfinedwithinterritoriallimitsotherthanthatofthewholestate,...,orisdirectedtoaspecificlocalityorspot,asdistinguishedfromalawwhichoperatesgenerallythroughoutthestate.
McIntyrev.Clarkson,
254N.C.510,517-18,119S.E.2d888,893(1961)(quoting50Am.Jur.
Statutes
§
8,pp.24(1944),nowappearingasrewrittenin73Am.Jur.2d
Statutes
§
7,p,273(1974))."[Languagethatnolongerappearsin73Am.Jur.2dStatutes
§
5,atp.230hasbeendeleted.]ThecourtshavenotconsideredtheGeneralAssembly'sdesignationofabillasgeneralorlocaltobedeterminative.
Town
of
EmeraldIsle
ex
reI.Smithv.State,
320N.C.640,650,360S.E.2d756,762,n.1(1987).Rather,theSupremeCourthasdevelopedtestsfordeterminingwhetheragivenpieceoflegislationisalocalactoragenerallaw.In
Williamsv.BlueCrossBlueShield
of
NorthCarolina,
357N.C.170,183-84,581S.E.2d415,425-26(2003),JusticeEdmundssummarizedthehistoryoftheSupremeCourt'sapproachtodeterminingwhetheralawwaslocalorgeneral.
 
November23,2011Page3"Astatuteiseither'general'or'local';thereisnomiddleground."
HighPointSurplus
Co.
v.Pleasants,
264N.C.650,656,142S.E.2d697,702(1965).Wehaveobservedthat"noexactruleorformulacapableofconstantapplicationcanbedevisedfordeterminingineverycasewhetheralawislocal,privateorspecialorwhethergeneral."
Mcintyrev.Clarkson,
254N.C.510,517,119S.E.2d888,893(1961).Consequently,sincetheenactmentofArticleII,Section24(originallyArticleII,Section29,
seeSmithv.CountyofMecklenburg,
280N.C.497,506,187S.E.2d67,73(1972)),wehavesetoutalternativemethodsfordeterminingwhetheralawisgeneralorlocal.
SeeCityofNewBernv.NewBern-CravenCty.Bd.ofEduc.,
338N.C.430,435-36,450S.E.2d735,738-39(1994).Inearlierdecisions,weheldthatifthelegislationimpactedamajorityofthecounties,thelawwasgeneral.
SeeStatev.Dixon,
215N.C.161,165,1S.E.2d521,523(1939).Later,weestablishedwhathasbecomeknownasthe"reasonableclassification"test.
SeeMcintyrev.Clarkson,
254N.C.at518-19,119S.E.2dat894-95.Thistestconsidershowthelawinquestionclassifiesthepersonsorplacestowhichitapplies.Pursuanttothistest,the"classificationmustbereasonableand...mustbebasedonareasonableandtangibledistinctionandoperatethesameonallpartsofthestateunderthesameconditionsandcircumstances."
Id.
at519,119S.E.2dat894.Alawisdeemedlocalwhere,byforceofaninherentlimitation,itarbitrarilyseparatessomeplacesfromothersuponwhich,butforsuchlimitation,itwouldoperate,whereitembraceslessthantheentireclassofplacestowhichsuchlegislationwouldbenecessaryorappropriatehavingregardtothepurposeforwhichthelegislationwasdesigned,andwheretheclassificationdoesnotrestoncircumstancesdistinguishingtheplacesincludedfromthoseexcluded.
Id.
at518,119S.E.2dat894.Ontheotherhand,theconstitutionalprohibitionagainstlocalactssimplycommandsthatwhenlegislatingincertainspecifiedfieldstheGeneralAssemblymustmakerationaldistinctionsamongunitsoflocalgovernmentwhicharereasonablyrelatedtothepurposeofthelegislation.Alawisgeneralif"anyrationalbasisreasonablyrelatedtotheobjectiveofthelegislationcanbeidentifiedwhichjustifiestheseparationofunitsoflocalgovernmentintoincludedandexcludedcategories."
Adamsv.N.C.Dep't.ofNatural
&
Econ.Res.,
295N.C.683,691,249S.E.2d402,407(1978)(quotingJosephS.Ferrell,
LocalLegislationintheNorthCarolinaGeneralAssembly,
45N.C.
L.
Rev.340,391(1967)).In
TownofEmeraldIslev.State,
320N.C.640,360S.E.2d756(1987),wedepartedfromthereasonableclassificationtestenunciatedin
Adams
wheretheactinquestionappliedonlytoasite-specificportionoflandona

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