Tag Archives: North Carolina

4 Libs And… Clarence Thomas Unite To Smack North Carolina’s Racial Gerrymandering

This isn’t a surprising vote from Thomas, if you know how crazy he really is.

Clarence Thomas is color-blind. Granted, he’s taken that to the logical extreme of stabbing out his own eyes so he figuratively can’t see anything even when it’s staring him right in the face. But he would rather let you be racist than allow the law to acknowledge race.

It’s frustrating when this blind race-denier fumbles about preventing progress because he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the world as it is. But occasionally, rarely, Thomas’s philosophy leads him to a place that isn’t completely wrong and unhelpful.

Such is the case in Cooper v. Harris. Justice Elena Kagan wrote a majority opinion concluding that North Carolina illegally used race in gerrymandering one of its districts. The opinion upheld a lower court ruling.

The 5 – 3 majority was made up of Kagan, Justices Ginsburg, Bryer, Sotomayor, and Clarence Thomas. Thomas signed on, in full, to Kagan’s opinion. He wrote a short concurrence to basically say “I always think this, but sometimes the libs are dumb.”

That doesn’t happen every Monday.

The whole issue of racial gerrymandering involves the Courts trying to prescribe when and how it’s okay for district map makers to be racist. The standard is that race cannot be the “predominate” factor in drawing a district. But politics can be. And so the game, regardless of whether you are trying to give minorities less electoral power or representative electoral power, is to figure out how to do it without making race “predominate.”

Whatever the hell that means.

North Carolina had a couple of districts where black candidates had a decent shot at winning, and so North Carolina got the bright idea of trying to shove as many minorities as possible into those districts, leaving the rest of their districts free of meddlesome darkies who might screw up their by-whites, for-whites election. North Carolina came up with the novel argument that the Voting Rights Act required the state to shove all the black people into a few districts, to make the state comply with fair political representation, even though the districts they were shoving people into were already balanced. Moreover, North Carolina gerrymanders didn’t really engage into any kind of inquiry into the political make-up of those districts: they just kind of noticed that there were a lot of black people in those districts and essentially tried to ghettoize them.

Kagan and the Court were unimpressed.

That’s not surprising from the liberals, but it is also NOT surprising from Thomas. Thomas doesn’t think racial gerrymandering is okay, and he doesn’t much care if you are doing it to help minorities or to hurt minorities. In his brief concurrence, he adds “In my view, §2 [of the Voting Rights Act] does not apply to redistricting and therefore cannot justify a racial gerrymander.”

Court fines and fees: Another barrier to North Carolina’s ballot box

How much money do you have to pay before you cast your ballot on Election Day?

Image result for court fees
Image: myfloridalaw.com

For most North Carolinians, the answer might seem obvious: none. As the cornerstone of our democracy, voting is supposed to be fair, accessible – and free. But for an increasing number of North Carolinians, the right to vote can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

How is that possible? The answer is because North Carolina denies the right to vote to people who have felony convictions but cannot afford to pay their court costs, even if they have satisfied all other probation requirements.

Thanks to an ever-growing system of mandatory fines and fees, those caught up in the criminal justice system can be forced to pay anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars a month for the cost of their court administration, jail fees, probation, electronic monitoring, drug testing, even community service – and more. If they are unable to pay, they face a penalty fee for nonpayment, increasing their fees and lengthening their probation period.

These costs have increased substantially over time. In 1999, the base cost a person would pay for a superior court date was $106. Today the base cost is $198 with the potential to grow to more than $10,000 in serious cases as additional penalties snowball. Even if they have served all the terms of their sentence, even if they have had no probation violations, low-income people often remain on probation simply because they are low-income. And in far too many North Carolina courts, judges will not conduct hearings on a person’s inability to pay, as is required by law.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Wake up people! The Right is just getting started…North Carolina General Assembly…Rouge One

Image: NC Policy Watch

Conservatives are working to radically overhaul the American social contract

At the conclusion of the whirlwind 2011 session of the North Carolina General Assembly — a session in which new conservative majorities pushed through a raft of dramatic policy changes —many progressive North Carolinians surveyed the aftermath and found themselves actually breathing a sigh of relief. There was a widespread feeling that the fury of the storm had passed, that the Right had vented its collective spleen and that, having pushed through so much of its long-stymied policy agenda, conservative leaders would settle down to focus on governing the state.

The simple truth is that the Right was then and is now only just getting started. If you doubt this, take a gander at the outrageous list of destructive proposals debated in the General Assembly last week. On issue after issue – K-12 and higher education, taxes, voting rights, the environment, the safety net, church and state, immigration, guns, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the relationship between corporations and human beings – conservative politicians and advocacy groups that inform and fuel their efforts are pushing the envelope ever further to the right.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

North Carolina Cop Placed on Leave After Video Shows Him Slamming Teen Onto Floor

A North Carolina police officer captured on video body slamming a high school student has been placed on paid administrative leave, police and school officials said Tuesday. Widely circulated footage shows the officer picking up the female student by her torso and then throwing her down hard onto the floor. The incident stemmed from a…

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl

The cynical, undemocratic and outrageous spectacle in Raleigh

Image: NC Policy Watch

Early in the special legislative session Wednesday called by Gov. Pat McCrory for disaster relief, House Rules Chair David Lewis responded on the House floor to a question about the rules governing the session by saying House leaders were trying to be “as transparent as they can.”

That was, simply put, a lie.

Two days before—on Monday—Lewis, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate President Phil Berger, and other Republican lawmakers signed a letter to call another special session when the disaster relief session adjourned to ram through legislation to take power away from the new Democratic governor and to remake the structure of state government on the fly.

They never bothered to tell the Democrats, the media, or the public about their scheme.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Hit the Road Pat!

 

 

Posted by Libergirl…shut up!

Pat McCrory Lost the North Carolina Governorship. Now He’s Trying to Steal It.

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, champion of the country’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ law, lost his bid for re-election on Nov. 8—at last count, by 7,448 votes. Yet nearly two weeks later, McCrory still refuses to concede. Instead, he and his legal team are baselessly alleging that the results were tainted by fraud, petitioning election boards to review the results and determine their validity. McCrory is not so obtuse as to think he can actually overtake his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, in raw votes. His strategy is more insidious: He seems intent on delaying the formal declaration of a winner—and delegitimizing the voting process—in order to let the Republican-dominated legislature ignore the true result and re-install McCrory as governor for another four years.

This chicanery will be easier to pull off than you might expect. Thus far, McCrory has questioned votes in more than half of North Carolina’s counties. One attorney monitoring the proceedings called these challenges “silly, small in number, poorly researched and often defamatory,” which is undeniable: Republican-controlled county election boards have forcefully rejected McCrory’s challenges, concluding that there is simply no proof of widespread fraud or malfeasance as McCrory claims. Frustrated by these setbacks, McCrory petitioned the Republican-controlled State Board of Elections to take over the review process. The board refused, but it agreed to meet on Tuesday to set guidelines for how county boards should address complaints.

Despite the utter lack of evidence to support allegations of fraud, McCrory’s team has launched a misinformation campaign to cast a pall of suspicion over the results. His campaign spokesman asked, “Why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?” McCrory’s close ally and current state budget director, Andrew T. Heath, also tweeted that Durham County has 231,000 residents over the age of 18 but 232,000 registered voters, implying fraud. (In reality, Durham’s 2015 voting-age population was about 235,600, and the county has only 193,659 active registered voters; its Republican-controlled election board already unanimously rejected a complaint alleging malfeasance.) Now McCrory’s lawyers are targeting black American voter outreach groups for purportedly violating minor procedural rules while helping voters fill out absentee ballots. The governor has falsely accused these groups of conducting a “massive voter fraud scheme.”

McCrory can, and probably will, still ask for a statewide recount. But he must know that a recount will not close such a sizable gap. His real goal appears to be to delegitimize the results to such an extent that the state legislature—which holds a Republican supermajority—can step in and select him as the winner. North Carolina state law states that when “a contest arises out of the general election,” and that contest pertains “to the conduct or results of the election,” the legislature “shall determine which candidate received the highest number of votes” and “declare that candidate to be elected.” By alleging fraud, mishandling of ballots, and irregular vote-counting, McCrory is laying the groundwork for the legislature to proclaim that a “contest” has arisen as to “the conduct or results of the election.” At that point, it can step in, assert that McCrory received “the highest number” of legitimate votes, and “declare [him] to be elected.”

The best part? Under the law, the legislature’s decision is “not reviewable” by the courts. Republican legislators can simply step in, overturn the decision of the voters, and grant McCrory another term. The courts have no authority even to review the legality of their actions.

While McCrory works to reverse the results of his election, the legislature is contemplating a plan to effectively negate a state Supreme Court contest. On Election Day, voters ousted a conservative justice and replaced him with a progressive, tipping the court’s balance of power toward Democrats. Republican legislators so feared this result that they attempted to bar the progressive candidate from running, passing a law that was struck down as unconstitutional. Now they are floating a plan to pack the court, expanding it from seven to nine members—and allowing McCrory to name its two new members, thereby conserving its conservative majority. The legislature passed HB2 in 12 hours. It could ram through a court-packing bill just as quickly.

This scheme, of course, would directly contravene the voters’ recent decision to move the state Supreme Court in a liberal direction. But North Carolina Republicans no longer care much about the will of the voters. Instead of accepting the results of the election, Republicans are attempting to entrench their power through a series of unethical, underhanded, and constitutionally dubious maneuvers. Their corrupt disregard for basic governing norms—their blatant preference for raw power over democratic legitimacy—should alarm us all. What’s happening in North Carolina is not mere politics. It is a perversion of democracy.

By Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

Posted by The NON-Conformist