Lottery Appeal Hearing Today
Special Report - September 8, 2008
The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case concerning the manner in which the North Carolina Lottery Act was passed by the state legislature in 2005. This hearing comes after the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in a split decision on March 18, 2008 that the enactment of the lottery was constitutional. Because the Court of Appeals decision was split, the plaintiffsincluding the North Carolina Family Policy Councilhad an automatic right to appeal the case to the State Supreme Court.
The original lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the passage of the Lottery Act was filed on December 18, 2005. The suit argues that legislative leaders in both the State House and Senate failed to follow the constitutionally mandated process for approving “revenue bills” in the General Assembly. The North Carolina Constitution requires that the second and third reading votes on revenue bills take place on separate days and that the “yeas” and “nays” for each of these votes are recorded in the House and Senate journals.
Parties to the lawsuit do not dispute that fact that the General Assembly failed to follow the constitutional procedures for revenue bills when passing the lottery. The parties disagree, however, on whether the Lottery Act represents a tax and was therefore subject to a higher level of scrutiny by state lawmakers.
“Approximately one-third of every dollar collected from the lottery in North Carolina is used to fund the broad public purpose of education,” said Jere Royall, an attorney with the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “The lottery is a tax, and as such, it should have been treated as a revenue bill by the General Assembly. We are hopeful the State Supreme Court will agree.”
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