21 unconstitutional laws passed under the cloud of a racial gerrymander

Running list of laws passed by the Republican-led NC legislature that have been found unconstitutional. 

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21 unconstitutional laws passed under the cloud of a racial gerrymander

For five years now, Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature have been elected under maps that have been found to violate the Constitutional rights of North Carolinians. The nation’s highest court – including a Justice appointed by President Donald Trump - found these legislators’ actions discriminatory yet they treat this news like another round of a child’s game. We have seen why fair and nondiscriminatory representation is important time and again. 

Fourteen times, laws enacted by this unconstitutional General Assembly have been found unconstitutional. Laws that have rigged the system and earned North Carolina headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Whether it’s restricting women’s access to health care or the worst voter suppression law in the country, these unconscionable actions by the Republican led General Assembly have hurt every citizen of this state. In their decision striking down the voter suppression law, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called out North Carolina Republicans for targeting black voters “with almost surgical precision.” When will it end? 

From the State Supreme Court to the Fourth Circuit and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, courts have not been fooled by the actions of North Carolina Republicans who have enacted laws under the dark cloud of a racial gerrymander. The cases range from the drawing of district maps to coal ash to defunding Planned Parenthood to Elections and Ethics Reform, taking power away from the Governor. In each instance, the rulings have been clear that the partisan power grabs are wrong and they must end. 

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North Carolina partisan gerrymandering decision has precedent around the nation; other states model possible remedies

This week a three-judge panel struck down North Carolina’s state legislative districts on the grounds of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. In a landmark decision after years of litigation, the judges determined that the state’s partisan gerrymandering was so egregious that it violated the state’s constitutional clauses guaranteeing equal protection and free elections. Lighting a proverbial fire under state legislative leaders, the court ordered a redraw within two weeks without the use of “election data.” Any delay could result pushing back 2020 primaries. 

The North Carolina decision is significant because it is the first to come after the Supreme Court punted on  Rucho v. Common Cause. In a 5-4 decision in June of this year, the court ruled that questions of partisangerrymandering (as opposed to racialgerrymandering on which SCOTUS issued a definitive rebuke of North Carolina’s maps in 2017) are out of the purview of federal courts. The question rests in state hands and the North Carolina judiciary gave a decisive answer. 

North Carolina is hardly unique in its years-long battle over Republican partisan gerrymandering. Nationally, with few exceptions, state legislatures draw political districts. Subsequently, bitter legal fights over the concentration of political power ensued in other deeply divided swing states (notably Pennsylvania and Florida). In January 2018 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the state’s GOP-drawn congressional districts were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. In a “scathing indictment of political gerrymandering,” the ruling struck down maps deemed one of the top three starkest partisan gerrymanders in the country. Similar to North Carolina, the court found that Pennsylvania’s districts were “tortuously drawn” with Democratic voters “packed” into concentrated districts to dilute their political power (a tactic Democratic voters in North Carolina will find familiar). 

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Paul Newby complained about partisanship on the state’s highest court while launching into a Trump-like tirade against his fellow justices

At a recent Republican BBQ fundraiser, NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby warned event attendees about the danger of injecting partisanship into the courts. He did so through a fearmongering tirade in which he said his fellow NC Supreme Court justices did not stand up for the country or state.

After calling the judicial branch “the most dangerous branch of government,” Newby said his colleagues had little respect for the rule of law. In reference to a passage in the NC Constitution about the right to worship God, Newby drew a contrast between himself and his colleagues, saying the words of the US and NC Constitutions “sound strong to us, but they don’t to them.” 

Newby’s self-righteous disgust over partisanship on the state’s highest court sounded hypocritical after he compared his colleagues to Republican’s favorite villain, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez is often referred to by her initials, ‘AOC.’ 

“Imagine seven ‘AOCs’ on the state Supreme Court,” Newby said, “Well, folks, we got six.” 

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Republican attempts to control elections have left the state in chaos, but they want it that way

In 2013, upon taking control of the governorship and with supermajorities in both chambers, the North Carolina General Assembly entered into the business of statutory election interference. Since then, they have passed five laws intending to seize control over the elections processes to protect themselves. Almost all of these have been struck down by either the courts or voters.

This discord has thrown a complicated wrench into investigations into allegations of election fraud in the 9thCongressional District. A month before the November 2018 election, a three-judge panel ruled the changes Republicans made to the State Board were unconstitutional, but allowed the it to remain in place during the election and subsequent investigation. 

However, as the investigation into Congressman-elect Mark Harris’ apparent election misconduct dragged on, the court ordered the board dissolved. Gov. Cooper moved to appoint an interim board, but Republicans refused to submit any nominees. As of now, even as officials uncover one of the most widespread examples of election fraud, the State Board of Elections sits in limbo, unable to fully investigate, compromise, or certify any evidence or results as a result of Republican efforts to meddle with the board.

How did we get here?

Read on for more.

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Real Facts NC Releases 2018 Election Report

Real Facts NC released a report today on key NC races in the 2018 midterm elections. Tuesday’s results included major victories with the election of Anita Earls to the NC Supreme Court, the defeat of the two “power grab” constitutional amendments, and the election of three Democrats to the NC Court of Appeals.

Democrats also broke the Republican supermajority in the NC House and, barring two potential recounts, look to have done the same in the NC Senate. Notably, first-time candidate Julie von Haefen beat long-time incumbent and chief budget writer Nelson Dollar. Democrats defeated almost all of the incumbent Wake and Mecklenburg Republicans and picked up two Western NC House seats.

Victories were dampened by the losses of close races in New Hanover County despite shifting tides in that region. Furthermore, four constitutional amendments passed, including the photo ID requirement to vote. A similar measure was previously ruled unconstitutional in 2016 for targeting African American voters “with almost surgical precision.” It is widely expected that Republican lawmakers will attempt to codify some of the same restrictions on acceptable IDs when they return to write the implementing legislation in late November. The right to hunt and fish and the victim’s rights amendments also require implementing legislation.

Some of Tuesday’s results made history, including the election of Pitt County’s first Black District Attorney Faris Dixon and first Black woman Sheriff Paula Dance. In Wake County, Gerald Baker overcame great odds to defeat four-term incumbent sheriff Donnie Harrison. John Arrowood became the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in NC and the south.

With an eye on potential recounts in Mecklenburg, the Triad, and Wilmington, here is a first look at the 2018 NC election results.

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Earls win blocks Republicans state Supreme Court packing plans.

In December 2016 then-Governor Pat McCrory confirmed the legislature planned to pack the NC Supreme Court by claiming he worked to “deter efforts to expand” the court. Since December of 2016, Republicans have made several attempts at legislative selection of judges, culminating i…

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North Carolina Candidate Profile: Chuck Kitchen (NC Court of Appeals)

Sidney “Chuck” Kitchen is a GOP-affiliated attorney who has worked as both the Alamance County Attorney and the Durham County Attorney and currently works at a private law practice in Chapel Hill, Stark Law Group. He is currently the town attorney for Holly Ridge. The Stark Law Group is the law group often used by the NCGOP. Thomas Stark alleged, on behalf of Pat McCrory, that voter malfeasance occurred in Durham during the 2016 election. The allegations were disproved, but delayed election results.

Kitchen has been pictured getting cozy with Republican leaders; he attended Dan Forest’s birthday party and has been photographed with Thom Tillis and Tim Moore.

Kitchen represented Alamance sheriff Terry Johnson when Johnson was accused of targeting the Hispanic community through discriminatory checkpoints and ethnic slurs. Kitchen defended Johnson by citing his supposed Cherokee ancestry and said individuals in the case had their own “ax to grind” with the sheriff. He noted that Johnson was “very sensitive” and doesn’t tolerate discrimination, yet the judge in the case noted that jail officers under Johnson’s supervision targeted minorities with ethnic slurs. Kitchen was paid at least $357,360 by Alamance County for representing Johnson.

Kitchen was removed from his position as Durham County Attorney because of a conflict that was triggered by a developer’s lawsuit.The lawsuit alleged that Kitchen “interceded in a matter outside his authority” and got involved in a Jordan Lake dispute at a planning director’s request. 

As the attorney for Durham County, Kitchen was embroiled in multiple issues involving animal control, Durham County Schools, same-sex marriage, and guns.Kitchen was accused of “usurping the animal control board’s power” by increasing the pet licensing fee without board input.” He said Durham County didn’t need anyone’s permission to start charging schools for essential services like water and sewer and dismissed a lawsuit two men filed after their marriage license was rejected. As the Durham County Attorney, Kitchen said the “guns, especially pistols, are designed to shoot and kill people.”

Read more about Kichen here.


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