Testimony for Removing the Literacy Test from North Carolina’s Constitution | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the John Locke Foundation. The author of this post is Dr. Andy Jackson.

    I spoke in favor of House Bill 44, removing the literacy test from the North Carolina Constitution at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on the morning of March 1. My prepared comments are below:

  • I am Andy Jackson with the John Locke Foundation.
  • I speak in favor of House Bill 44, the constitutional amendment to repeal the literacy test.
  • No one here needs a history lesson on how the literacy test, combined with the grandfather clause, stripped voting rights from Black North Carolinians. I applaud the current General Assembly for rising to remove it.
  • But I've also come to offer a warning.
  • While repealing the literacy test is supported on both sides of the aisle here, there is no guarantee that it will pass a vote of the people. In fact, the last time the General Assembly put repealing the literacy test up for a vote in 1970, the people rejected it.
  • This is not 1970 and repeal has a better chance of passing in a vote next year. Still, a May 2022 poll found that 55% of respondents favored repealing the literacy test while the rest either opposed or were unsure. That is an uncomfortably close margin.
  • Some voters may read or hear about the seemingly innocuous language of the literacy test and believe, as the United State Supreme Court ruled in Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections (1959) that "The North Carolina requirement ... does not, on its face," violate the United States Constitution.
  • In short, repealing the literacy test is no slam dunk.
  • First, while legislators should avoid editorializing in the text of constitutional amendments, adding language noting the literacy test has been prohibited by the federal Voting Rights Act since 1965 gives voters important context. The [committee substitution] change in the amendment's language helps.
  • Second, and this applies to my colleagues in the nonprofit community as well as legislators, we must not succumb to the temptation to use the literacy test as a political bludgeon against our opponents. Each time we do so, we run the risk of driving down support for repeal.
  • Thank you.

    I had prepared a two-minute comment, but the committee only allowed one minute for speaking. Here is a video of my shorter actual comment to the committee.
Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )

The Market Is Responding to Right-to-Repair Needs Without Legislation John Locke Foundation Guest Editorial, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics “Forbidden-Word” Lists Are a Symptom of Administrative Bloat


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Former President Trump might be glad Signature Bank refused his business following the Capitol riot, now that the New York-based lender is the latest institution to be shut down by regulators.
RALEIGH: Tex-Tech Industries, a leading manufacturer of specialty textiles, will create 49 new jobs in Forsyth County, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The company will invest more than $24.8 million to build a new manufacturing center in Winston-Salem.
bought Manhattan prosecutor's office for $1 million
Pope Francis criticized radical gender ideology in a recent interview, referring to it as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” in the current public discourse.
Following the unexpected collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, company officials have reached out to customers who lost their life savings with promises of a free pen.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) said that communist China is using TikTok to make its way into U.S. data systems as calls grow for the federal government to ban the app.
Gov. Cooper Proposes Historic Investments in Education, Economic Development, and Workforce Without Raising Taxes
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) brought up left-wing riots during an interview over the weekend when asked about the recent media coverage surrounding the January 6 riot following the release of thousands of hours of video footage from the incident.
General Assembly leaders agreed to a bottom-line budget number last week, kicking off the biennium budget season. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced that General Fund spending would increase by 6.5% in the first year


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) slammed Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over the weekend for making statements about the origins of COVID that are not supported by the findings of the U.S. intelligence
In recent months, Republican Governors like Gregg Abbott have continued their cruel campaign against parents who pursue constitutionally-protected avenues for cleaning their children.
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) said during an interview on Sunday that when he approached President Joe Biden about using the U.S. military to take out Mexican drug cartels, the president rebuffed him and said that it was a “bad idea.”
In a press conference Thursday, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore announced that an agreement has been reached between the chambers to expand the federal Medicaid entitlement program in North Carolina.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on Sunday that testimony from a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant about President Joe Biden’s disastrous pullout from Afghanistan was “devastating and damaging to the administration.”
Today, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released the following statement on February's Producer Price Index:
Former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker explained to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) this week how President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is a “two-tiered system of justice” in which conservatives often get the short end of the stick.
Bob and Louise Herman reportedly caused ruinous, irredeemable destruction on their teenager's life forever for the fifth time today.
The U.S. Navy announced this week that it would be renaming a ship named for oceanographic pioneer Matthew Fontaine Maury because of Maury’s ties to the Confederacy during the later years of his life.


Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ first memoir, which was launched ahead of an expected announcement that he will run for president in 2024, sold more copies in its first week than books from Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
North Carolina’s state motto offers a great guide to policymakers
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced backlash late this week after falsely claiming during a White House press briefing that Daily Wire host Michael Knowles called for the “eradication of transgender people” during a speech at CPAC.
A federal judge canceled a March 7 hearing in a lawsuit pitting the University of North Carolina against an expelled student. The student claims UNC mishandled sex assault allegations against him.
Energy Department Secretary Jennifer Granholm gushed about China’s approach to green energy in a Friday interview, saying she hoped that the U.S. could learn from China’s approach.
The showdown over the future of the federal budget is taking shape as President Joe Biden releases his fiscal year 2024 spending proposal and House Republicans prepare to leverage their new majority to block the plan.
On Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the Oscar for best actor in a leading role to a young Ukrainian man for his hard work on and off the screen.
Stanford University’s law school is deemed the second-best in the nation in the latest U.S. News and World Report, which means its current enrollees likely include future senators, judges, and possibly even Supreme Court justices who will help shape American law over the next half-century.
On Wednesday, North Carolina legislators took a step toward repealing the literacy test requirement from the N.C. Constitution. Legislators heard House Bill 44 in the Judiciary 2 committee Wednesday. The bill would place a constitutional amendment on the 2024 general election ballot.


Back to Top