Judge Schroeder, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, acknowledged that given the racism in North Carolina’s past, residents “have reason to be wary of changes in voting law.” But he cited various ways in which black voters would still have opportunities to get to the polls, even with the less generous ballot access the law affords.
On Friday night, Penda Hair of the Advancement Project, one of the lawyers for the state N.A.A.C.P., said that her team had not decided whether to appeal the ruling. But she said that they planned to challenge the provisions, as well as the voter ID provision, in a full trial scheduled for next July. “We are disappointed,” she said. “But we remain committed to prevailing on the trial on the merits.”
Apparently this judge (like many of his colleagues) works under the false assumption of a post-racial South, and sets an extremely high bar on challenges related to race. "Nobody's been lynched? Well, in that case, I see no racism involved in these activities." Yes, that's hyperbole, but the tendency to ignore all but the most blatant forms of racism is all too real in our society, and that includes judges. Excerpts from the Opinion:
While there is no dispute that “the overt racism of the 1960s is largely a thing of the past,” it is also true that in far too many places affected by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision voiding a critical section of the Voting Rights Act, racial discrimination continues to flourish.
One of the indignities of discrimination is the insistence on simply reducing it to “feelings.” But it is a matter of fact, not perception, that all of North Carolina’s voting provisions disproportionately affect racial minorities. Whether local officials are “shocked” by allegations of racial motives is beside the point.
Exactly. It doesn't (or shouldn't) matter if the intent of the law was to marginalize minority voters, and it also shouldn't matter if that intent can be proved legally. The facts on the ground are what matters, and those facts are disenfranchising a segment of our voting population. And it shouldn't be a partisan debate. These are Constitutional rights we're talking about, no matter how much propaganda and twisting is being done by those who would limit those rights for others.
In March, Peake addressed attempts by lawmakers to quash subpoenas seeking email, correspondence and other documents exchanged while transforming the state’s voting process. In a court hearing earlier this year, attorneys for 13 Republican legislators tried to turn back efforts to get the correspondence released.
Their attorneys contended that the lawmakers were protected by legislative immunity and should be free from “arrest or civil process” related to their actions as General Assembly members. In his ruling on Thursday, Schroeder acknowledged that legislators, in general, do enjoy some immunity, but said that the courts have not addressed the scope of privilege when applied to documents in a civil case.
Any communications engaged in that concerned the creation of public policy should fall into the category of public records and, as such, shouldn't even require a court subpoena to be viewed. Republicans were trying to accomplish two things with this legal move: a) to avoid any repercussions involving their true motives behind the voter suppression laws, and b) to establish via precedent a new doctrine that would completely shield them from criminal and civil procedures going down the road. Their thirst for unchecked power is breathtaking, and voters need to schedule an "intervention" in November, before the GOP runs over any more pedestrians or crashes the state into a ditch.
"Before legislators get carried away with their rhetoric, they need to know that they could be indicting themselves," said Bob Hall, the director of Democracy North Carolina. The first and last names and birth dates of democrats Representatives Duane Hall and Rodney Moore and republicans Rep. Charles Jeter and Senator Ronald Rabin are found on other voter rolls and North Carolina's voter roll.
Rep. Jeter contends he notified South Carolina election officials he was leaving the state years ago. Jeter said Democracy North Carolina never contacted him about this issue. "There is no desire, no one has suggested that we are going to go into this General Assembly in the short session and pass any legislation regarding voter ID and for him to imply it is disingenuous,” said Jeter, who represents Mecklenburg County.
He was talking about your rhetoric, which has been waist-deep since the NC BOE gave their little presentation about duplications on voting rolls. That rhetoric is a desperate attempt to justify voter suppression tactics that are being raked over the coals in the courtroom, and some of you GOP Legislators have taken the rhetoric nation-wide:
Attorneys in a trio of lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s voter identification law say that as of the middle of last week, the State Board of Elections had not turned over a single electronic document, despite a plan agreed to by both sides earlier this month to produce that material.
In a motion filed last week, lawyers who object to the voting law say the other side is stalling. Defense attorneys contend that the plaintiffs are to blame for any delay by asking for copious amounts of documents, including some that pertain to a portion of the law that doesn’t take effect until 2016.
Not sure what is worse, failing to turn over documents or waiting until 5 p.m. on a Friday and then crashing your system, which is what DENR did last week.
“When we see polling places that have traditionally been on college campuses moved away and seemingly for not any good reason, it’s very concerning," said Bob Phillips, state director of voting rights group Common Cause. "It makes one think there are other reasons for this that have to do more with politics than, again, the goal of making voting easy and accessible for everybody.”
Phillips said he has heard Republican-led elections boards in Cumberland, Guilford and Forsyth counties also are targeting polling sites on the campuses of Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Winston-Salem State University, respectively. Votes cast on all three campuses have historically favored Democratic candidates.
This attack on college voters is doubly frustrating because, in addition to being a blatantly partisan move to cut down on votes for Democrats, it also serves to suppress the votes of the youngest demographic, a group that we should be encouraging to get involved.
Tea party volunteers in Buncombe County went door-to-door to find out whether inactive voters lived at the addresses they have filed with the elections office. Volunteers also mailed a letter to each of the voters, which was returned undeliverable. The letters became the evidence in the challenge.
Election officials must wait two presidential election cycles, or eight years, before removing an inactive voter from the roll under federal law, Parker said. DeLancy said his group disagrees with this characterization of the rules. He said the group believes the two election cycles include midterms, which would shorten the time frame to four years.
Proving once again the Tea Party is a bunch of hypocrites. Harping about defending freedoms from an overzealous government and waving the US Constitution around, but they're more than happy to take away your right to vote if given half a chance. Mind-numbing contradiction.
A bigger problem for him is that he has come to be seen as a figurehead for an increasingly unpopular state legislature. The 2010 election gave the Republicans enough seats to control the redistricting process, and in 2012 they took full charge of North Carolina’s state government for the first time in a century. The party now enjoys a veto-proof “super-majority” in the General Assembly, which means they can basically pass whatever laws they want.
Unlike the pragmatic conservatives who have long dominated state politics, the Republicans now in charge are culture warriors. Their priorities ensured that Mr McCrory’s first year in office was contentious. The governor found himself passing laws to ban sharia (Islamic law), restrict abortion and introduce strict voter-identification rules, which are being challenged by the federal government.
The Economist makes the same (big) mistake that others have in evaluating the behavior of the Republican-led NCGA: they label the obvious (anti-abortion, VoterID) as a cultural attack, while implying that other acts like flattening the tax rate and cutting various programs are different, and maybe even admirable. But make no mistake, those actions are also part of the culture war, and arguably more devastating. There is no "moderate" side to the GOP machine in this state.
This isn’t a question of legislative immunity. It’s a matter of open government.
These 13 legislators assume a dangerous power for themselves. In effect, they contend that they can change laws that go to our most cherished constitutional rights – in this case, the right to vote – and yet they can’t be questioned about it during a judicial hearing.
Such a system isn’t democratic. To the contrary, it smacks of a conceit and arrogance more associated with totalitarian states. The federal court must open those records so North Carolinians can see what the legislators are trying to hide.
I suspect closely behind that arrogance lurks fear, the fear their "intent" will be revealed. Republicans have been able to float the "showing an ID is only common sense" balloon successfully for quite some time. But when that balloon pops, and people realize this was all just another political move, and an unconstitutional move at that, no amount of gerrymandering will protect them from the wrath of voters.
Starting at the end of Reconstruction following the Civil War, North Carolina and other states used official and unofficial means to stop poor and black citizens from voting. North Carolina’s 1900 constitution required that voters pay a poll tax and be judged as literate by the local voter registrar, who could choose tough questions for some voters and easy questions – or none – for others. The constitution also included a grandfather clause that exempted from the poll tax those entitled to vote as of January 1, 1867. Between 1896 and 1904, nearly all black voters, including many thousands who had voted before, were removed from the voting rolls, and nearly all black officials were driven from office.
While this first assault on minority voting rights was eventually turned back in the 1960's, similar yet not so blatantly obvious methods were adopted shortly after the turn of the 21st Century, by the now moribund Republican Party (see footnotes) which rose to power under questionable circumstances, likely due in part to the Great Recession which plagued much of the world during this era:
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