NC Gov. Cooper vetoes anti-Critical Race Theory bill he calls ‘conspiracy-laden politics’

 North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed two bills Friday, including an anti-Critical Race Theory bill that would have regulated what views public schools can “promote” and required them to post online in advance curriculum and guest speakers who might talk about race or gender.

House Bill 324, titled “Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination/Schools,” passed both the House and Senate completely along party lines, with all Republicans for and all Democrats against. All the African American senators and representatives of the General Assembly are Democrats.

In an emailed statement, Cooper said: “The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education.”

Rep. Kandie D. Smith of Greenville, speaks against HB 324 during debate on the the House floor on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 in Raleigh, N.C. Robert Willett RWILLETT@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said in a statement Friday about the HB 324 veto: “It’s perplexing that Gov. Cooper would veto a bill that affirms the public school system’s role to teach students the full truth about our state’s sometimes ugly past. His invented excuse is so plainly refuted by the text of the bill that I question whether he even read it.

“More broadly, Democrats’ choice to oppose a bill saying schools can’t force kids to believe one race is superior to another really shows how far off the rails the mainstream Democratic Party has gone,” Berger said.

Cooper also vetoed House Bill 805, known as “Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder,” which would have created stricter penalties for people who riot. Speaker Tim Moore filed the bill after George Floyd protests last summer became destructive.

Two Democrats voted with Republicans when it passed the House. In the Senate, no Democrats voted for it.

“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” Cooper said about the veto Friday.

On Friday, Moore called the veto of the rioting bill a “slap in the face to the small business owners and residents of cities and towns across this state that were damaged by lawless riots.” Moore said Cooper was “pandering to the far left” by vetoing what he called a “common sense” bill.


House Bill 324 does not mention Critical Race Theory by name, but outlines a series of concepts schools shall not “promote,” including that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;” and that “an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive.” It also says teachers shall not promote that anyone “should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” based on their race or sex.

The bill also requires schools to notify the Department of Public Instruction and post on their school website a month in advance the curriculum, reading lists, workshops and training as well as any contracts with speakers and diversity trainers.

During the final debate in the House, Rep. John Torbett, a Stanley Republican, said the bill “provides a window into what [parents’] children are being taught.”

“This bill does not change what history can or cannot be taught,” Torbett said.

Democrats disagreed.

Rep. Brandon Lofton, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, said the bill “encourages us to look away from our history.”

Wake County Democratic Rep. Abe Jones called that aspect of the bill “Big Raleigh,” and an example of state lawmakers making rules for local areas where they do not live.

On Friday, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice praised Cooper’s veto of HB 324. Katelin Kaiser, voting rights counsel for the coalition, said the bill was “a desperate effort to stop speech and end study critical to educational equity for students at the time we need it most.”

Cooper’s office already had indicated he would veto the bill.

“Instead of pushing calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education, lawmakers should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning and investing in our public schools,” Cooper press secretary Jordan Monaghan said in a statement after the bill passed. “This legislation does none of that and is only meant for the next political campaign.”

Republicans have majorities in both chambers but not the three-fifths supermajorities needed to override vetoes, unless they have support from some Democrats.

Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue tweeted Friday that Senate Democrats would uphold both vetoes.

Cooper also signed nine bills into law Friday, including one that bans shackling of incarcerated pregnant women. He also signed House Bill 351, known as “Clifford’s Law,” which allows visitation for nursing home residents during declared disasters and emergencies. It is named for long-term nursing home resident Clifford Jernigan.

NC Gov. Cooper vetoes anti-Critical Race Theory bill he calls ‘conspiracy-laden politics’ NC Gov. Cooper vetoes anti-Critical Race Theory bill he calls ‘conspiracy-laden politics’ Reviewed by Your Destination on September 13, 2021 Rating: 5

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