Yesterday, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom filed a Petition for Discretionary Review with the North Carolina Supreme Court in the matter of Breedlove v. Warren. In the petition, we ask the Court for expedited review of a September trial court decision prior to a ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
The trial judge ruled that two North Carolina magistrates lacked standing to challenge the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)'s issuance of directives requiring all judicial staff to participate in same-sex marriages, even if doing so violated their sincerely held religious beliefs. The judge reasoned that since the AOC does not hire, fire, or supervise magistrates, it cannot be sued for forcing them to resign under duress. The case arose prior to the passage of Senate Bill 2, which now allows magistrates to opt out of performing marriage ceremonies under certain circumstances.
In our petition, filed with co-counsel W. Ellis Boyle, we ask the Court to consider several questions, including the following:
Can an administrative agency be held responsible for exerting authority over a state employee that the agency or its agents do not directly hire, fire, or supervise, when that agency exerts at least some authority or influence over either the affected state employee or other state employees who supervise the affected state employee?
We also ask the Supreme Court to consider the proper standard for evaluating religious liberty claims under the North Carolina Constitution. Proceedings at the Court of Appeals will continue while the Supreme Court considers whether to grant the petition.