(Okay, no, not technically, but amusement parks are about to close on weekdays and pools are shutting down after this weekend and we’re no longer supposed to wear white for some reason, so in the lay, non-astronomical sense, I think we’re all agreed that summer spiritually ends with Labor Day.)
(Which is, like, here.)
But before we all take off for the holiday that heralds the last hurrah of the season, let’s check in on what’s happening in the states. Because, while most legislatures aren’t in session in the summers, that doesn’t mean statehouse action takes a vacation.
Because, thanks to the GOP-controlled legislature and its never-ending series of power-grabs and general assaults on democracy, there’s ALWAYS something happening in North Carolina.
Two weeks ago in this space (my vacation was lovely, thank you), I wrote about a court fight over the GOP’s super-brazen (even for them) attempt to change the rules in the state’s Supreme Court race mid-game, so to speak.
Two weeks was, like, forever ago, so let me catch you up:
Last year, Republicans 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.
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 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.” (Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but whatevs, cool, you do you.)
While Anglin’s not mentioned by name in the bill, it applies only to judicial elections, and it only allowed candidates to display their party affiliation on the ballot if they were a member of that party 90 days prior to filing to run.
The bill passed along party lines, of course.
And it was immediately challenged in court, of course.
A Wake County judge swiftlyissued an injunctionto prevent the state from printing ballots unless the candidates are identified on them by their preferred party, and the court ultimately ruled in favor of Anglin appearing on the ballot as a candidate of his party of choice.
This week, the state Court of Appeals declined Republicans’ request to stay the lower court’s ruling.
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.
Requiring voters to present a photo ID to cast ballots.
Two weeks ago, a court issued an injunction on printing ballots (by now a familiar experience for the GOP) in response to a lawsuit disputing the deceptive wording Republican lawmakers are using to explain some constitutional amendments they want passed this fall.
Yup, the Republicans’ lawyer basically argued that lawmakers have a right to mislead voters.
Never mind that the GOP is asking voters to make fundamental shift to the balance of power among branches of government, obstruct ballot box access, and dramatically undermine the state’s tax base, resulting in inevitable cuts to schools and other essential government duties.
Specifically, the one concerning stripping the governor’s power to appoint the elections board and giving it to the legislature, and the one giving the legislature control over who the governor can select to fill judicial vacancies.
It feels like the dog days of summer are in full effect, but I may be a little bit behind on this one. Or I’m not, depending on where you are while reading this—astronomical dog days occur at different times, depending on things like latitude and the position of the stars relative to the Earth and such.
The resurgence of conservative Republicans in the Kansas House presents a serious reversal of a pretty significant swing the other way in 2016, when not only did Democrats flip 13 seats in November, but 14 moderate Republicans ousted conservative incumbents while seven more won nominations for open seats in that year’s primary.
The power shift away from the conservative Republicans who’d controlled the legislature was so massive that the moderates forced the conservatives to share power in the House, with a conservative Republican assuming the speakership and a moderate becoming majority leader.
It’s tough to predict what this shift back to right for Republicans means for legislative elections in November.
Will the contrast against the Brownback-esque policies that resulted in a disastrous budget chasm help Democrats flip even more seats?
Or is the conservative faction of the House Republicans on its way back to legislative hegemony?
(By the by, the state Senate isn’t up this year, and the Republicans there are just as divided as their House counterparts.)
Wolves: The judicial drama in West VirginiaI wrote about a few weeks ago has reared its head again—just in time for GOP lawmakers to capitalize on it for a state Supreme Court coup.
It all started last fall, when reports began to surface concerning Supreme Court justices indulging in Trump cabinet-esque spending on fancy furniture amid lavish renovations of their chambers (in the neighborhood of $700,000 for things like fancy couches, elegant flooring, and pricey rugs).
These ludicrously extravagant refurbs spurred the state’s legislative auditor to investigate the justices.
The full House will convene to consider the impeachment articles this Monday.
So there’s just no way they wrap up by the Aug. 14 deadline.
If the justices are successfully impeached, four GOP appointees will be able to serve at least two years on the bench.
Just in case you think this is anything but a brazen Republican attempt to replace an entire branch of government through GOP appointments, consider this:
A Democratic member of the House attempted to initiate impeachment proceedings back in February—which would have left plenty of time to resolve the matter and place judicial candidates on the ballot this fall.
At the time, Republican leadership called the move “a political stunt.”
And why entertain timely steps to remove corrupt justices when you can slow your roll and execute a Supreme Court coup instead?