FORSYTH COUNTY SHERIFF WILL NO LONGER DETAIN IMMIGRANTS: The Forsyth County Sheriff says he will stop accepting detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement who are being held on immigration violations, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. follows similar decisions by the sheriffs in Wake and Durham counties last month. He made the announcement Wednesday after a rally by supporters of a man being held by ICE in the jail, according to the newspaper. “Currently, the sheriff’s office is not an extension, and will never will be an extension, in this administration, of immigration services,” Kimbrough said, according to the Journal. “We are not helping ICE. We have not arrested anyone on immigration violations, nor do we plan on it.”
NC CONSTITUTION STILL CONTAINS JIM CROW LITERACY TEST FOR VOTERS: In the national debate over race and racism, people sometimes forget how recently racial discrimination was written into the law. In North Carolina, it still is. A literacy requirement for voting that was added in 1900 remains part of North Carolina's state constitution almost 120 years later. Section 4 of Article VI of the constitution states, "Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language." The provision was once used to keep blacks from voting by allowing precinct officials to create outlandish or impossible tests that only prospective black voters had to take. In 1970, five years after the federal Voting Rights Act struck down literacy tests nationwide, North Carolina lawmakers put a proposed amendment on the ballot to remove the literacy test from the state constitution. But voters defeated the measure, keeping the test in state law.
BILL TO ALLOW SCHOOLS TO REFUSE TO BE VOTING SITES GETS FILED: Challenges that come with using schools as polling places are behind proposed legislation that would let school districts prevent their buildings from being used for voting. Current law allows elections boards to demand use of state, county, municipal and public school buildings for voting. Under House Bill 24, local elections boards couldn’t use schools without the approval of local boards of education. When voting in schools is allowed, elections boards would have to follow safety plans the schools develop. Rep. Lee Zachary, a Republican who represents Yadkin County and part of Forsyth County, said allowing adults into school buildings during elections can conflict with school safety. Statewide, about 20 percent of last fall’s polling sites were in schools, according to a News & Observer analysis of a State Board of Elections list. Wake County had 73 of its 204 voting sites in schools, said Wake Elections Director Gary Sims. Blocking access to schools won’t work in Wake, Sims said. “It’s a guarantee we will not have places for people to go vote,” he said.
DURHAM CATHOLIC SCHOOL CANCELS EVENT DUE TO LESBIAN SPEAKER: A Catholic school in North Carolina invited a black lesbian alumna to speak at a Black History Month event, but canceled the event and classes due to threats of protest. The Herald-Sun reports Immaculata Catholic School canceled classes Friday after officials learned "a number of groups" planned to protest the talk by Durham councilwoman Vernetta Alston. Alston said Thursday that the school's move sends the message that black voices can be canceled. Father Christopher VanHaight told parents the cancellation prioritized student safety. He hasn't specified what upset the groups. Alston is one of six openly LGBTQ candidates elected to office in North Carolina in 2017. Councilwoman Jillian Johnson, who was also scheduled to speak at the school, says she was told the Black History Month program is now canceled.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS SIDES WITH LIBERALS TO BLOCK ANTI-ABORTION LAW: The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a Louisiana law that its opponents say could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority. That coalition underscored the pivotal position the chief justice has assumed after the departure last year of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who used to hold the crucial vote in many closely divided cases, including ones concerning abortion. The court’s brief order gave no reasons, and its action — a temporary stay — did not end the case. The court is likely to hear a challenge to the law on the merits in its next term, which starts in October. Abortion rights advocates welcomed the court’s order, which came around 9:30 p.m., only hours before the law was to go into effect.