Bar Proposal Fails Supreme Test
Special Report - March 18, 2011
The State Supreme Court has declined to approve a controversial, pro-homosexual provision proposed by the North Carolina State Bar that posed a significant threat to the First Amendment rights of attorneys across the state. According to a report on the State Bar website, the State Supreme Court considered a number of proposals submitted to them by the State Bar in an administrative conference on March 10, including a proposed amendment to the Preamble of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct that would include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in an “aspirational” non-discrimination statement for attorneys in this state. As we previously reported, the proposed amendment to the Preamble, which the high court rejected, stated: “While employed or engaged in a professional capacity, a lawyer should not discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This responsibility of non-discrimination does not prohibit a lawyer’s advocacy on any issue.” While the N.C. Supreme Court did approve nine proposals submitted by the State Bar on March 10, they did not approve the pro-homosexual non-discrimination amendment to the Preamble.
Over the past several months, while the State Bar was considering the proposed amendment to the Preamble, the North Carolina Family Policy Council and many attorneys across the state raised a number of concerns about the proposal’s potential impact on the freedoms of religion and speech of attorneys. Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, submitted a letter to each of the North Carolina Supreme Court Justices, urging them to vote against the proposed amendment. In the letter, Royall noted that, “Adding the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to the Preamble of our Rules would create a protected status for behaviors that many understand to be harmful physically, psychologically, and spiritually.” Additionally, Royall emphasized that the addition of these terms, which are currently undefined in North Carolina law, “would violate the United States’ and North Carolina’s Constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion, whether now as part of an ‘aspirational’ statement, or later when they may be included in a different part of the rules, and become the basis for disciplinary action against an attorney.”
“Attorneys should not be expected to embrace, encourage, or facilitate behaviors that many understand from medical, scientific, social, moral and historical research to be harmful to children and adults,” said Royall. “Although the State Supreme Court did not comment on its decision to reject this proposed amendment to the Preamble, the decision to not approve it is a victory for the freedoms of speech and religion of attorneys in NC.”
Sexuality Proposal Passes Bar Committee - October 28, 2010
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