Thursday, July 26, 2018

Laws of Future Passed edition

With monsoon-like conditions in part of the country and record-breaking heat in others, weather manipulation strikes me as a pretty sweet superpower to have these days.
But we can’t all be Storm, so while we’re stuck enduring the weather-hand we’ve been dealt, let’s take a gander at what’s going on around the country in non-climate-related news.
DomiNOPE: A few weeks ago in this space, I wrote about GOP lawmakers in North Carolina pushing a constitutional amendment that would effectively allow Republicans to pack the state Supreme court.
To refresh your recollection: 

Sounds innocent enough, yes?
    Not so much.
  • If Democrat Anita Earls loses her race for the state Supreme Court this fall, the court will have a 4-3 Democratic majority.

  • The GOP-controlled legislature can then simply vote with their veto-proof majorities to add two seats to the court.
  • Then the legislature’s new sham commission would be able to send Cooper a list with nothing but hardcore partisan Republican names to fill those new vacancies they just created, opening the door to a 5-4 GOP majority.
Fun fact: When one Democratic lawmaker called his GOP colleagues out for this court-packing scheme, not a single Republican bothered to deny it.

  • Other constitutional amendments slated to appear on North Carolina ballots this fall include:
    • Requiring voters to present a photo ID to cast ballots.
    • Giving the legislature (read: Republicans) the ability to choose members of the State Board of Ethics and Elections enforcement, taking that power away from the governor and preventing the Democrat currently occupying the office from appointing a Democratic majority to the board.
  • Republicans also passed legislation specifically designed to impact the 2018 elections by allowing any candidate running for office to change his or her party affiliation right up to the time they officially file as a candidate.
    • Democrats protested the move, saying it could lead to shenanigans.
  • And then North Carolina Republicans’ luck ran out.
    • That candidate—Raleigh attorney Chris Anglin—filed to run as a Republican, sparking GOP fears that he’d siphon votes away from Jackson, splitting the party’s vote and easing Earls’ path to the bench.
    • Until June 7 of this year, this fresh Republican face in the race was a registered Democrat.
  • The state Republican Party has vowed to treat Anglin as “the enemy he is.” Both Anglin and state Democrats aver that no shenanigans are afoot here; rather, Anglin is just a concerned citizen who wanted to run as a “constitutional Republican” … whatever that means.
    • While Anglin isn’t mentioned by name in the bill, it applies only to judicial elections, and it states:
    The party information listed by each of the following candidates’ names is shown only if the candidates’ party affiliation or unaffiliated status is the same as on their voter registration at the time they filed to run for office and 90 days prior to that filing.
  • The bill passed along party lines, and, though Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is likely to veto it, Republicans’ veto-proof majorities are sure to overturn any attempt to block it.
    • When it becomes law, this measure is virtually certain to be challenged in the courts.

I mean, changing the rules in the middle of an election?
    Even for North Carolina Republicans, who are already legendary for their shameless and breathtaking attacks on democracy in their state, this is … brazen.
Skincrawler: Sacha Baron Cohen has convinced some lawmakers and prominent political figures to say and do some pretty damning things on camera for his new show, “Who Is America?”

Not-so-fun fact: Spencer resisted calls to resign last year when he threatened a black former state lawmaker advocating for the removal of Confederate statues by saying that “she won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive” and suggested that she would “go missing in the Okefenokee [swamp]” because of her stance.

  • After the “Who Is America?” segment aired, Spencer faced immediate calls to resign—despite the fact that he’d already lost his primary election and would be out of the legislature come January, anyway.
    • But Spencer had good reason to try to hang on.
  • Oh late Tuesday night, however, the House speaker’s office announced that Spencer would be resigning his seat in the legislature, effective at the end of the month.

Read the rest of this week's edition here.
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