The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie They use the fallacy of rampant cheating at the polls to make it harder for people to vote.

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He was a proud Korean War veteran. He was also black and lived in Texas. That meant that by 2013, Floyd Carrier, 86, was a prime target for the state’s voter suppression campaign, even though he was “Army strong.”
In an election that year, when he handed his Department of Veterans Affairs card to the registrar, he was turned away. No matter that he had used that ID for more than 50 years without a problem. Texas had recently passed a burdensome and unnecessary law that required voters to show a state-approved ID with a photo. His card didn’t have one.
The North Koreans couldn’t break Mr. Carrier, but voter suppression did. “I wasn’t a citizen no more,” he told a reporter last year. “I wasn’t.”
Voters across the country are now realizing that they, too, have crossed into the twilight zone: citizens of America without full citizenship rights. The right to vote is central to American democracy. “It’s preservative of all rights,” as the Supreme Court said in its 1886 ruling in Yick Wo v. Hopkins. But chipping away at access to that right has been a central electoral strategy for Republicans.

Anthony Settles, a Texas retiree, had been repeatedly blocked from the ballot box because his mother changed his last name when he was a teenager, and that 50-year-old paperwork was lost in what he described as a “bureaucratic nightmare.” After spending months looking for the wayward document, and then trying to get certified by the name he has used for more than half a century, he knew, beyond all doubt, that he had been targeted.

“The intent of this law is to suppress the vote,” Mr. Settles told a Washington Post reporter in 2016. “I feel like I’m not wanted in this state.”

That was the point. Demoralize people. Strip away their voting rights. Debase their citizenship. Dilute the diversity of voters until the electorate becomes homogeneous. Lie and say it’s because of voter fraud. But most important, do all of this in the name of saving democracy.

Rampant voter fraud does not exist. There is no epidemic of illegal voting. But the lie is so mesmerizing, it takes off like a wildfire, so that the irrational fear that someone might vote who shouldn’t means that hundreds of thousands who should can’t cast ballots, in part because of the increase in voter ID laws across the country in recent years.

The best way to understand the lie is to understand how it began: on Election Day in 2000. What happened then affects who will show up to vote in less than two months, and how confident they’ll feel when they get to the polls.

Florida’s electoral malfeasance in the 2000 vote is infamous. But that election in St. Louis was also a disaster, and it taught the Republicans an important lesson: Block people of color from polling places by any means necessary. And it showed them, point by point, how to create a voter suppression road map that is paying dividends today.

The St. Louis Board of Elections had purged some 50,000 names from the voter rolls, primarily in key Democratic precincts. And it had failed to notify the people who had just been stripped of their vote, as the law required.

So when those voters showed up to cast their ballots, they were told they were no longer registered. Besieged precinct workers couldn’t get through on the jammed phone lines to check much of anything. Some opted to send frustrated would-be voters downtown to the Board of Elections office to resolve the issue there.

This combination of poor record keeping and ill-prepared officials meant that hours and hours dissolved as the clock on Election Day wound down. When the polls were about to close, the lobby was still packed with people waiting to cast their ballots.

Democrats filed for an injunction to keep precincts open to accommodate voters who had been caught in the Board of Elections runaround. A circuit court judge agreed and ordered the polls to stay open for a few more hours.

Republicans were not having it. Senator Christopher Bond said the voting extension “represents the biggest fraud on the voters in this state and nation that we have ever seen.” Others made the case that this was just a Democratic maneuver that would result in hundreds of fraudulent votes.

Republicans filed an appeal to close the polls. A state appeals court obliged. Shortly after the circuit court’s decision, the doors slammed shut on hundreds of people waiting in lines to vote.

Then things got worse.

Missouri Republicans twisted this clear case of election board wrongdoing into a torrent of accusations against the Democrats and the overwhelmingly black residents of St. Louis. Missouri’s Republican secretary of state, Matt Blunt, called the effort to keep the polls open an attempt “to create bedlam so that election fraud could be perpetrated.” Senator Bond went further: It was a “brazen” and “shocking” effort to commit voter fraud.

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. Instead, it was an illegitimate purge of approximately 49,589 eligible voters by the Board of Elections. It was also sloppy record-keeping and bureaucratic malfeasance. But, for the Republicans, that was not the point. Rather, it was about fine-tuning a voter suppression master plan. They learned three key lessons from the bungled election.

The first lesson was that demographics were not destiny. The voting-age population was becoming less white and more African-American, Latino and Asian. In 1992, nonwhite voters made up 13 percent of the American electorate. By 2012 that figure had risen to 28 percent. That growing share of the electorate favored the Democrats. A poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in the late 1980s found that only one in two black Republicans thought his party cared about problems facing the black community. In the 2000 presidential election, nine in 10 black voters, 62 percent of Hispanic voters and just over half of all Asian voters backed Al Gore.

Fullstory by Carol Anderson/NYT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Freedom Rider: Russiagate Covers Up Black Vote Theft

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“The Democrats want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.”

“They want me on, as long as I talk about Russia. And I said, ‘What about black voters?’ ‘Well that’s race issues.’ The reason I’m allowed on MSNBC is because I’m with people like Joy Reid and Al Sharpton and others. Where’s the pale faced guys? Because they consider the vote theft issue a racial issue, and that ain’t their viewers.”
Greg Palast

The corporate media and their friends in the Democratic Party are whipping up so much hatred and disinformation that it is almost impossible to discuss Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a multi-purpose villain. He is blamed for the vote theft conducted by white Americans against black people that resulted in the Donald Trump presidency.

Because so much of the ginned up vitriol is conducted on orders from the Democratic Party, black people have joined in spreading the misinformation. The headline for a recent article in The Root proclaimed , “Evidence Shows Hackers Changed Votes in the 2016 Election but No One Will Admit It.” The alleged hackers in the story are said to be Russian. But apparently too much was alleged in this piece because The Rootlater removed the article with a disclaimer . “This story was an opinion piece asserting there was evidence that hackers changed votes in the 2016 election. However, a number of statements in the piece are disputed by experts. As a result, we have pulled it down for editorial review, and will update it once that review is completed.”

“Black people have joined in spreading the misinformation.”

What is clear is that the Republicans stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump with a combination of voter suppression and outright theft directed against black people. Trump supposedly won the state of Michigan) by a 10,000 vote margin, but more than 75,000 votes  cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines. An additional 449,000 voters in that state were purged from the rolls through the infamous Crosscheck  system.

The National Security Agency (NSA) planted a story of Russians breaching voting data. That claim was and is still denied by some of the states alleged to be victims. Like almost every other charge lodged against Russia there is no corroboration from a disinterested source. It is true that the state of Georgia mysteriously deleted voter data  from servers.That happened because the scope of vote theft carried out with a paperless and easily hackable voting machine was about to be revealed in a lawsuit.

But all talk of stolen elections is forbidden in this country, even though it happens on a regular basis. While Republicans are the vote thieves the Democrats say little or nothing about the resulting defeats and the loss of their most loyal constituents’ citizenship rights. That is just one of the reasons they need to flog the Russiagate horse incessantly. They have nothing else to offer and are no more eager than Republicans to be associated with black people. They want our votes, but if we aren’t allowed to vote at all they pretend not to know.

“More than 75,000 votes cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of “malfunctioning” voting machines.”

Rootcolumnist Michael Harriott writes eloquently about the Republican vote theft schemes that guarantee victory for them. He rightly points out that purges of black voters  are accelerating with millions of people at risk of losing their rights. But he lost objectivity when he claimed that Russian hackers breached voting systems and actually changed votes. Even Robert Mueller says that did not happen. But the trauma of the Trump presidency and the irresponsible behavior of those explaining away their role in the debacle creates bad journalism. In the retracted piece Harriott actually uses the obsolete word Soviet not once but four times. Apparently the correct word Russian isn’t scary enough.

The 2016 election is a story of miscalculation by many people. Trump didn’t think he would win, the media who gave him free air time did so because they didn’t think he would win, and Hillary Clinton was so certain of victory that she didn’t campaign in the states that flipped and gave him an electoral college win. A sustained get out the vote effort and protection of the franchise by the Democrats might have countered the electoral larceny that made Trump the 45th president.

Who are the real villains in the story of the 2016 presidential election? Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, the greedy “consultants” who made off with $1 billion in campaign funds and still didn’t get their person into office, and Republicans who have perfected vote thievery. They will strike again and they will do so without any help from Vladimir Putin.

By Margaret Kimberley/BlackAgendaReport

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Roy Cooper will take the legislature to court over proposed amendments

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Raleigh
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will sue state legislative leaders over two proposed constitutional amendments that he wants to keep off the ballot in this November’s elections.
Cooper, a Democrat, said that the amendments would be an unconstitutional power grab by the Republicans in the General Assembly and that the amendments themselves are worded in a misleading way to trick voters. The two amendments would take away Cooper’s power to appoint judges, regulators, board members and other state officials, and transfer that power to the legislature.
Cooper’s announcement came Saturday evening, just hours after the legislature overrode two of Cooper’s vetoes on different election-related bills that are now law.

One of the bills that became law on Saturday strips power away from a committee that previously would’ve been responsible for writing short descriptions of the amendments for the ballot. Cooper said that with that law now in place, the only language describing the amendments will be “false and misleading” descriptions written by the legislature. He believes a judge should order two of the six amendments to be taken off the ballot entirely.
A draft copy of the lawsuit Cooper plans to file Monday begins with sweeping accusations against the Republican-led General Assembly.

“The General Assembly has proposed two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that would take a wrecking ball to the separation of powers,” Cooper’s lawsuit states. “These proposed amendments would rewrite bedrock constitutional provisions— including the Separation of Powers Clause itself.
“They would overrule recent decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court,” the legal argument continues. “They would strip the Governor of his authority to appoint thousands of officials to hundreds of boards and commissions that execute the laws of our State. They would confer exclusive authority on the General Assembly to choose those whom the Governor can consider to fill judicial vacancies. And they ultimately threaten to consolidate control over all three branches of government in the General Assembly.”
Earlier on Saturday, Republican legislators anticipated Cooper’s lawsuit and criticized anyone who would sue over the amendments.
“It’s an attempt not to let the voters weigh in and speak their minds if they’re for or against the amendment,” Harnett County Republican Rep. Davis Lewis, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, said. “It’s an attempt to once again use the courts to short-circuit the will of the people.”

In the past several years, state and federal courts have overturned more than a dozen laws written by Lewis and his colleagues. One of those was a 2013 voter ID law, which a federal court struck down as unconstitutional for targeting African-American voters “with almost surgical precision” — but legislators have not been dissuaded, and one of the six amendments on this November’s ballot would create a voter ID law.
All six of the amendments that legislators want to put before voters this November have drawn at least some controversy, and the two Cooper is targeting are among the most controversial.

Both would take power away from the governor’s office and transfer it to the legislature, which has been a continuing goal of Republican lawmakers since before Cooper was sworn in at the start of 2017.
One of the proposed amendments would transfer the power to fill judicial vacancies from Cooper’s office to the legislature. The other proposed amendment would make even broader changes to state government, giving the General Assembly all of the power to appoint regulators, board members and other officials.

But when voters go to the polls this November, they won’t know any of that simply by reading their ballots, Cooper said. The only language describing that amendment on the ballot will say: “Constitutional amendment to establish a bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections to administer ethics and election laws, to clarify the appointment authority of the Legislative and the Judicial Branches, and to prohibit legislators from serving on boards and commissions exercising executive or judicial authority.”
Cooper said the legislature is clearly trying to trick voters.
This is not the first time Cooper has sued the General Assembly in his 18 months as governor, alleging unconstitutional power grabs.

As soon as Cooper defeated the Republican incumbent, Pat McCrory, in the 2016 election, the Republican-led legislature began stripping powers away from the governor’s office.
Republican lawmakers reclassified the jobs of hundreds of McCrory’s political appointees within state government to stop Cooper from replacing them with his own picks, and they changed the law so that Democrats would not be able to have a majority on the state elections board. They’ve also acted to constrain Cooper’s ability to appoint judges and members of state boards.

By Will Doran/News&Observer

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Stand Your Ground’ Did Not Kill Markeis McGlockton Michael Drejka’s decision to shoot was inconsistent with Florida’s self-defense law.

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Markeis McGlockton and Michael Drejka both overreacted during their brief, fatal encounter in the parking lot of a Florida convenience store last week. McGlockton overreacted by pushing Drejka to the ground, and Drejka overreacted by drawing a pistol and shooting McGlockton in the chest.

Although it is hard to see how Drejka’s use of lethal force could have been justified, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to arrest him, claiming his hands were tied by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. But that is not true, and Gualtieri’s misrepresentation of the law has renewed misguided criticism of Florida’s approach to self-defense, which contrary to popular misconception does not give a free pass to armed hotheads who claim to have fired out of fear.

The incident that ended in McGlockton’s death began when Drejka approached Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend, as she sat in her car outside the Circle A Food Store in Clearwater. Drejka was upset that Jacobs had parked in a handicapped spot, and the ensuing argument attracted the attention of McGlockton, who was in the store buying candy for his 5-year-old son.

Video from a surveillance camera shows McGlockton emerging from the store, walking straight up to Drejka, and pushing him down. Within five seconds, Drejka, sitting on the ground, draws a gun and fires once. McGlockton staggers back into the store, grabbing his chest.

After collapsing in front of his son, McGlockton was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Drejka, who has a concealed carry permit, told police he fired because he was afraid McGlockton was about to attack him again.

“We’re precluded from making an arrest in this type of a situation,” Gualtieri claimed at a press conference the next day. “Stand Your Ground allows for a subjective belief by the person that they are in harm’s way,” the sheriff said, and “we don’t get to substitute our judgment for Drejka’s judgment.”

To the contrary, the law requires police and prosecutors to assess the judgment of someone who uses deadly force, which he is allowed to do only if he “reasonably believes” it is “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” It is not enough to claim you shot someone because you believed he otherwise would have killed or maimed you; that belief has to be reasonable in the circumstances.

The video shows McGlockton backing away when Drejka draws his gun. Even assuming that McGlockton was not done with Drejka after the shove, Gualtieri conceded that Drejka “probably could have” fended McGlockton off simply by brandishing the pistol. The implication is that Drejka did not reasonably believe shooting McGlockton was necessary, which means there was probable cause to arrest him.

Gualtieri obscured that point by erroneously asserting that the Stand Your Ground law, which was enacted in 2005, established a “largely subjective standard” for the use of lethal force. The question, he said, is not “what I would do, what you would do, what the public would do, what someone else would do.” What really matters, he suggested, is “the person’s subjective determination of the circumstance they were in” and “the fear that they had.”

Not so. Because a shooter’s assessment of the situation has to be reasonable (even if it ultimately proves to have been mistaken), it does matter what other people would do in the same circumstances. In that respect, Florida’s criteria for self-defense did not change in 2005, and they are similar to those that apply throughout the country.

The signature feature of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, as the moniker suggests, is that people attacked in public places do not have a duty to retreat. But that rule, which most states have adopted and Gualtieri said he supports, did not figure in the sheriff’s decision.

Gualtieri emphasized that someone who legally uses force in self-defense is immune from arrest under Florida law. But he never satisfactorily explained why that description applies to Michael Drejka.

By Jacob Sullum/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Most Important Surveillance Story You Will See for Years’: Report Reveals How AT&T Buildings Serve as Secret Hubs for NSA Spying “AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

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“The most important surveillance story you will see for years just went online, revealing how AT&T became the internet’s biggest enemy, secretly collaborating against its customers and partners to destroy your privacy.”

That was how whistleblower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden reacted to the publication of an explosive story by The Intercept on Monday, which reveals for the first time how “fortress-like” AT&T buildings located in eight major American cities have played a central role in a massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying program “that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.”

“It’s eye-opening and ominous the extent to which this is happening right here on American soil,” Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told The Intercept in an interview. “It puts a face on surveillance that we could never think of before in terms of actual buildings and actual facilities in our own cities, in our own backyards.”

The Intercept‘s detailed report—based on a large body of evidence that includes public records, classified NSA documents, and interviews with former AT&T employees—shows how the telecom giant has willingly helped the NSA collect the data of its own customers and those of other companies, thanks to its “unique relationships with other phone and internet providers.”

According to Intercept reporters Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke, who bylined Monday’s story, eight AT&T facilities—known as “peering sites”—in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. “serve a specific function, processing AT&T customers’ data and also carrying large quantities of data from other internet providers.”

“The eight locations are featured on a top-secret NSA map, which depicts U.S. facilities that the agency relies upon for one of its largest surveillance programs, code-named FAIRVIEW,” Gallagher and Moltke write. “AT&T is the only company involved in FAIRVIEW, which was first established in 1985, according to NSA documents, and involves tapping into international telecommunications cables, routers, and switches.”

The report continues:

In 2003, the NSA launched new internet mass surveillance methods, which were pioneered under the FAIRVIEW program. The methods were used by the agency to collect—within a few months—some 400 billion records about people’s internet communications and activity, the New York Timespreviously reported. FAIRVIEW was also forwarding more than one million emails every day to a “keyword selection system” at the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters.

Central to the internet spying are eight “peering link router complex” sites, which are pinpointed on the top-secret NSA map. The locations of the sites mirror maps of AT&T’s networks, obtained by The Intercept from public records.

Fight for the Future (FFTF), an open internet advocacy group, reacted with alarm to The Intercept‘s reporting on Monday, writing on Twitter, “AT&T has bent over backwards to help the U.S. government spy on essentially all internet traffic.”

“Giant telecom companies aren’t just “anti-consumer,” they’re actively helping authoritarian governments and pushing for policies that endanger free expression,” FFTF concluded.

By Jake Johnson/Common Dreams

Posted by The NON-Conformist

As transgender rights case goes back to court, N.C. second-grader questions bathroom restrictions

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A federal judge will hear arguments on Monday, June 25, 2018, over the North Carolina law that replaced House Bill 2, the controversial bathroom bill. N.C. lawmakers want the case dismissed. Transgender residents say the new law is discriminatory.
A federal judge will hear arguments on Monday, June 25, 2018, over the North Carolina law that replaced House Bill 2, the controversial bathroom bill. N.C. lawmakers want the case dismissed. Transgender residents say the new law is discriminatory. Toby Talbot AP

More than a year has passed since North Carolina repealed controversial House Bill 2 and replaced it with a new law that does not dictate which bathrooms transgender people must use in state buildings.

Then in October, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that transgender people could use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity if the facilities are under control of the executive branch. The announcement was part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit borne out of a challenge to HB2.

That settlement proposal and new arguments over the law that replaced HB2 — House Bill 142 — will be taken up in a federal courtroom on Monday, including new questions about a New Hanover County second-grader and prohibitions against her restroom use in school.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder will preside over the new legal battles simmering over the 7-month-old settlement proposal.

North Carolina lawmakers have argued that the original plaintiffs don’t have standing in the case after the repeal of HB2, and they question whether the court has the authority to enter the consent decree negotiated by Cooper.

HB2 had required people in government facilities to use bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates, and it blocked a Charlotte ordinance that added anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

House Bill 142 created a moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances through Dec. 1, 2020. And it left regulation of bathrooms, showers and changing facilities to state lawmakers, not the universities, community colleges, local school systems and other state agencies that had been setting their own policies.

Lawmakers contend HB 142 no longer regulates the original challengers of HB2 — a transgender man who works at UNC-Chapel Hill, a lesbian law professor at N.C. Central University, a transgender man who was a student at UNC-Greensboro, a transgender teenage girl who was a student at the UNC School of the Arts and a lesbian couple in Charlotte.

The replacement law is directed at state agencies and local governments, lawmakers contend, and any contentions by the LGBT community of harm and discrimination are speculative.

“Even if they come to pass, the time, place, factual circumstances, applicable trespass or other legal rules, and private and government actors involved — all are unknown,” said Kyle Duncan, a Washington-based attorney representing Senate leader Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican, and House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican.

But when the replacement law was adopted, LGBT advocates argued that it left transgender people in North Carolina without discrimination protections after HB2 put them in the middle of a contentious and high-profile political debate that was monitored across the United States and abroad.

As that debate roared, companies that had been looking at bringing jobs to North Carolina abandoned those plans, and the NBA, NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference threatened to move their major sporting events to other states.

Though the replacement law stemmed some of those impacts, it fell short of satisfactory for Quinton Harper, a 32-year-old community organizer in Carrboro and advocate for people living with HIV.

Harper decided last year to join the lawsuit that will be discussed in court on Monday because he thinks HB 142 keeps a distressing environment in place.

“North Carolina is sending a message to LGBT people like me that we are not welcome here, that we are not deserving of protection from discrimination, and that we are not equally valued members of our communities,” Harper said in a statement last year when the ACLU amended the lawsuit to reflect the repeal of HB2 and the change in the executive branch from Republican Gov. Pat McCrory to Cooper, a Democrat.

Supporters of HB2 and rules surrounding bathroom use in state and government buildings characterize them as necessary to protect privacy in restrooms, locker rooms and showers, particularly at public schools.

They argue that children should be protected from confronting a person of the opposite sex in such situations.

Issues in a New Hanover County school

In court documents filed with the lawsuit this month, the ACLU, one of the groups representing the challengers, brought a new voice into the debate.

A New Hanover County mother and member of the ACLU of North Carolina contacted the organization in January 2018 with concerns about what her second-grader was experiencing in the New Hanover County school district.

The woman’s daughter is transgender, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and, as part of her treatment, has been advised to live as a female in all aspects of her life, according to the ACLU request to amend the lawsuit to include the second-grader.

“Despite having a letter from her daughter’s treating clinician indicating that her daughter should be allowed to live in accordance with her gender identity, the school bars (the woman’s) daughter from using the girls’ restroom because she is transgender,” Chris Brook, legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, and attorneys from Lambda Legal stated in that court document.

The school told the child she could use the nurse’s restroom or the restroom in the teachers’ lounge, according to the court filing.

“She uses neither, because she feels humiliated and singled out as different for being the only student forced to use those restrooms,” the filing states. “When she has used the boys’ restroom, she has been confronted by other students who told her she was not supposed to be there.”

The second-grader asked to be allowed to use the girls’ restroom after the experience but was told that officials’ interpretation of HB 142 meant it was illegal for them to let her use those facilities.

“She continues to use the boys’ restroom while at school, exposing her to hostility, anxiety and humiliation,” Brooks and the other attorneys said.

The woman has noticed that her daughter avoids using any restroom during the day, which can lead to a rush to get home and occasionally accidents in the car.

By Anne Blythe/NewsandOberver
Posted by The NON-Conformist

Supreme Court sends NC partisan gerrymander case back for more arguments

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The U.S. Supreme Court sent the North Carolina case challenging the 13 congressional districts as partisan gerrymanders back on June 25, 2018, to the lower court for further hearings. Jessica Gresko AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t immediately take up arguments about whether North Carolina Republican lawmakers went too far in 2016 when they redrew the state’s 13 congressional election districts to intentionally give their party a 10 to 3 advantage.

In an order released Monday, the high court sent the case back for further hearing in light of its decision in a Wisconsin case last week.

That means the challengers will have to persuade the three-judge panel that struck down the congressional districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders that a voter in each district suffered harm.

The North Carolina case has some similarities to the Wisconsin case and a Maryland partisan gerrymander case that also was sent back to a lower court last week for further proceedings.

But North Carolina’s case has one prominent difference.

State Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, announced the party’s intention for drawing the election districts that would be used for voters to elect their congressional delegation.

“I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats,” Lewis said at the time.

The redrawing occurred because the federal courts found that the redistricting plan drawn by Republicans in 2011 contained unconstitutional racial gerrymanders that weakened the influence of black voters.

Challengers hope to get the case back before the Supreme Court in time to affect the districts used in the 2020 election, said Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

“While it’s unfortunate that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear this case right away, we are optimistic that the lower court will recognize, like they did in January, that North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering is so egregious that it is unconstitutional and that our clients are the appropriate parties to be raising such claims,” Riggs said in a news release.

North Carolina has been described as one of the most gerrymandered states, and over the past seven years voters have chosen elected officials for the General Assembly and U.S. Congress from election districts that were later struck down by the courts as either racial or partisan gerrymanders.

North Carolina’s contorted history of congressional redistricting

Federal judges recently ruled that Republicans unconstitutionally gerrymandered two North Carolina congressional districts by race. But redrawing districts to benefit the political party in power is nothing new and has been going on for years.

Nicole L. Cvetnic and Patrick Gleason McClatchy

In an era in which mapmaking tools make it possible to draw election districts that pick up one house in a neighborhood while leaving another out, critics say the party in power is choosing voters for the candidates instead of the way the constitution intended.

There have been calls in North Carolina for the creation of a redistricting process to be done outside the political realm, but no legislation requiring that has been approved.

Concerned voters have looked to the U.S. Supreme Court for guidance.

Many consider Justice Anthony Kennedy to be the swing vote.

In a 2004 case from Pennsylvania, Kennedy was looking for a “limited and precise rationale … to correct an established violation of the Constitution in some redistricting cases.”

Though he did not find one in that case, he signaled his openness to striking down extreme partisan gerrymanders if the court could agree on a standard to do so.

In the Wisconsin partisan gerrymander case, in which the challengers asked the court to consider the state as a whole, the Supreme Court sent the case back saying the challenges must be brought district by district, with voters in each proving that their rights had been violated.

The Maryland case was sent back in an unsigned opinion that said the lower court hadn’t been wrong when it decided not to make the state redraw the maps in time for the 2018 election.

In response to the rulings in those cases, attorneys for North Carolina lawmakers filed a brief last week with the Supreme Court saying the case over the state’s congressional districts should be sent back to the lower court to further address questions raised in the Wisconsin case.

But attorneys for the challengers argued that no further hearings were necessary, that voters in each of the 13 congressional districts could and had shown harm.

By Anne Blythe/NewsandObserver
Posted by The NON-Conformist

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