Maximilian Longley is a former contributing editor of the John Locke Foundation's Carolina Journal and the author of many books and articles, including The Conservative In Spite of Himself: A Reluctant Right-Winger's Thoughts on Life, Law and the Three Stooges http://www.amazon.com/Conservative-Spite-Himself-Reluctant-Right-Wingers/dp/0977802426/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1278443907&sr=1-1 (accessed July 7, 2010) (Monograph Publishers, 2007).

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Emerson, James (1736-1786)

James Emerson (also spelled “Emmerson” in some documents) was born around 1736. He fought against the British crown during the North Carolina Regulation and the Revolutionary War.  Emerson came close to being hanged for treason by the British in the first conflict.  He later survived the latter conflict and lived out his remaining days as a Chatham County farmer.

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NC Postal Censorship Law of 1924 (Grist Law)

A state legislator named Frank Grist shepherded a law through the state legislature in 1924 which applied state-level penalties to anyone who sold literature in North Carolina which had been banned by the U.S. Post Office Department pursuant to federal law.  A magazine published by the famous editor H. L. Mencken potentially ran afoul of this statute, which was on the books until 1971.

Commentary

Speaker Ban Law

Enacted in 1963, the Speaker Ban was a North Carolina state law that restricted the appearance of Communists and other radical speakers at state-supported campuses, including the University of North Carolina.   The Speaker Ban sparked a major controversy over Communism, academic freedom, and the First Amendment.

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Greensboro Shootings

On November 3, 1979, an armed confrontation between members of the Maoist Communist Workers Party (CWP) and several Klansmen and Nazis ended with four CWP members and one supporter being shot dead.  Three trials soon followed, and CWP survivors and their supporters claimed that their anti-establishment views incited a conspiracy to have them killed.

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Affirmations

Affirmations are statements made in lieu of oaths by people who have conscientious scruples against taking oaths. Under modern North Carolina law, this means saying “solemnly affirm” instead of “solemnly swear,” and avoiding any invocation of God in support of one’s statement (North Carolina General Statues 11-1 and 11-4).  Starting its colonial history with a de facto freedom to affirm instead of swear, North Carolina returned to a more restrictive position based on English law, then extended affirmation privileges to certain Protestant groups, and ultimately made affirmations available to anyone with objections to oaths.

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Oaths

Many times North Carolina law has required people to prove their words or actions with a solemn official statement when, for example, testifying in court or assuming public office.  Such official statements must be given by a solemn oath or by affirmation.  First passed in 1777, the North Carolina oath statute describes oaths as “most solemn appeals to Almighty God.” The affiant is declared to invoke divine “vengeance” on himself if he lies. The proper format for oaths and the issue of sworn testimony eligibility have been contentious issues in the history of the Tar Heel State.