North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue has vetoed abill that would have undermined the Racial Justice Act, the 2009 law that allows death-row inmates to try to convert their sentences to life in prison without parole by using statistical proof of racial bias in their trials, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. “As long as I am governor, I will fight to make sure the death penalty stays on the books in North Carolina,” Perdue said. “But it has to be carried out fairly – free of prejudice.”
Republicans have portrayed the bill as a fix to the Racial Justice Act, but it severely restricts the use of statistics, rendering them useless in most cases. Democrats call it an outright repeal of the law. This bill was the General Assembly's second attempt to get rid of the Racial Justice Act, which prosecutors vehemently oppose. Last year Perdue vetoed the earlier bill. The Senate overrode the veto, but the House couldn't muster the three-fifths majority needed. This time, however, the House passed the bill 73-47. It needs only 72 votes to reach the three-fifths needed to override a veto if all members are present.