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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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House Republicans pander on transparency: they have the power to livestream business but refuse.

During the 2019 legislative redistricting process there was a continuous livestream available on YouTube without any legislative maneuvering. Republicans used this court-mandated livestream to tout their commitment to transparency. Sadly, this supposed commitment disappeared as soon as the maps passed both chambers.

Republicans clearly don’t want North Carolinians to have unfiltered access to their government, because then they couldn’t continue their unchecked attacks on democracy.

North Carolinians deserve to know what lawmakers are doing. Currently the public can only access audio streams for the House and Senate floors, six committee rooms, and the press room. They shouldn’t have to rely on a private company, WRAL, to livestream important meetings. All House and Senate sessions and committee meetings can and should be livestreamed.

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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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After Justice Newby echoes Trump’s “send them back” message, Berger Jr. seeks to further politicize “boring” judicial races.

In a concurring opinion released recently, NC Court of Appeals Judge Berger, a Republican, wanted to clarify something he felt his colleagues left out of their ruling. Judicial candidates, like Phil Berger , Jr, follow a code that prevents them from taking specific stances on issues likely to show up in their courtrooms. Berger thinks this makes judicial races “boring.” Apparently, Berger wants to keep “boring” rules out of other political races.

Berger’s assertion that judicial races are boring comes a week after NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby took heat for an aggressive critique of his the other members of the Supreme Court. Newby, in trying to criticize his colleagues for being too partisan, strayed widely from the norm in judicial races in making an extreme partisan attack that the Greensboro News & Record called “a new low.” Berger’s opinion reads as though he wants this type of attack to become the norm. 

Berger, a candidate for NC Supreme Court, wrote that “Commissioner races will become as boring as judicial races” if candidates are held to their campaign promises. Berger worried that Judges Tyson and McGee’s ruling would give candidates the impression they could be held accountable for what they say on the campaign trail.

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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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Top 10 issues at stake when you head to the ballot box

The wait is over- early voting began today.

For the past eight years a Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly has delivered crushing blows to the health, economic security, and safety of the people in the state. Beginning with then-House Speaker and now North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’ “Divide and Conquer” approach to the most vulnerable populations in the state, Republican leadership has entrenched an institutional disdain for anyone who is not at the top of the economic ladder.

Here are ten issues at stake in this year’s election to think about when you approach the ballot box! Happy voting!

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North Carolina Candidate Profile: Judge Barbara Jackson

In this Real Facts NC Candidate Profile, we turn our attention to the North Carolina Supreme Court and Associate Justice Barbara Jackson. Jackson was elected to the NC Supreme Court in 2010 and is running for re-election this upcoming November. Before becoming an Associate Justice, Jackson was elected as a judge on the NC Court of Appeals and served for six years. Prior to her judgeship, Jackson practiced law for fourteen years, including time as General Counsel to Republican Cherie Berry in the NC Department of Labor and in the office of Republican Governor James G. Martin. Read the full profile of Jackson here.

“We are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly's judgment.” – Jackson in Dickson v. Rucho, on the right of the General Assembly to keep secret its communications about the 2011 legislative maps that were later ruled unconstitutional.

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