North Carolina

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Voter ID Law

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear North Carolina’s appeal of a court ruling that found its legislature intended to discriminate against minorities in enacting one of the toughest voter ID laws in the nation, NBC News reports.

Rick Hasen: “These days at the Supreme Court, getting the Court not to hear a voting case is a significant victory. While the Court could well issue an adverse decision in the future, the 4th Circuit opinion stays on the books for now, and it has already been relied upon to hold other strict voting laws illegal.”

North Carolina Strikes Deal to Repeal Bathroom Law

“North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and its Democratic governor announced late Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to repeal the controversial state law that curbs legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and sets rules that affect transgender bathroom use in public buildings,” the New York Times reports.

“But gay rights advocates raised objections, arguing that the compromise would continue to allow discrimination. And it was unclear late Wednesday whether the deal, if approved, would end the boycotts by sports leagues, businesses and others that have harmed the state’s reputation and economy.”

Washington Post: “This week, lawmakers are facing a clear deadline imposed by the NCAA, which gave North Carolina until Thursday to change the law if it wants to host any college sports championships through 2022.”

‘Bathroom Bill’ Will Cost North Carolina Nearly $4 Billion

“Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ isn’t hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years,” according to an Associated Press analysis.

“Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state’s economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town’s amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue. The blows have landed in the state’s biggest cities as well as towns surrounding its flagship university, and from the mountains to the coast.”

McCrory Makes Last Attempt to Stick It To His Successor

“With just one day to go before he leaves office, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) threw a legal Hail Mary to the U.S. Supreme Court in another apparent effort to undermine his Democratic successor’s ability to govern,” the Washington Post reports.

“McCrory filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to pause court-ordered special elections for more than two dozen state legislative districts in 2017 — special elections in which Democrats could have an opportunity to pick up seats in North Carolina’s GOP-dominated legislature.”

Rick Hasen: “My guess is that the Court does not issue the stay.”

Meanwhile, the Raleigh News & Observer reports McCrory hung his official portrait in the governor’s office for Gov.-elect Roy Cooper (D) to see upon taking office on New Year’s Day.

Judge Blocks Law Weakening North Carolina Governor

“A North Carolina judge has temporarily blocked a law, passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, that would curb the incoming Democratic governor’s ability to control statewide and county election boards,” Politico reports.

“Gov.-elect Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit over the new law Friday afternoon, asking a Wake County Superior Court judge to stop it from taking effect while the suit proceeds. The judge granted the stay request and scheduled another hearing on the case next week.”

Some Democrats See Their Future In North Carolina

Politico: “The road to political morass began six years ago in North Carolina, when national Republican donors and strategists launched a concerted effort to create a bulwark against the emerging multiracial, center-left coalition that swept Barack Obama into the White House. They sank millions of dollars into cheaply bought local and state races, seizing control of the statehouse for the first time since a now-unrecognizable Republican Party that supported racial integration and voting rights for African-Americans held it during Reconstruction.”

“Because 2010 happened to be a once-a-decade redistricting year, the new Republican majority gerrymandered districts in which Democrats couldn’t win—which resulted in ever-more-hardline conservatives winning primaries in each election. A Southern economic powerhouse once known for a careful, if awkward, political balance (from 1999 to 2003, the state’s voters sent both John Edwards and Jesse Helms to the U.S. Senate) became a conservative lab experiment.”

Country Not Necessarily Moving Right

Rick Klein: “With the North Carolina legislature keeping the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ in place, 2017 gets to deal with some more unfinished business from 2016. But the issue serves as a reminder that this new era of Republican dominance has severe limits. The tide has already turned in North Carolina, and new efforts to repeal the bill – under public and economic pressure – are likely to be more successful after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper takes office. While there’s no predicting the president-elect’s Tweets, does anyone think Donald Trump will provide air cover on the issue next year? It’s a reminder – like the minimum-wage increases that passed last month – the country is shading red, but not necessarily moving right.”

Is North Carolina a Sign for What’s Coming In Politics?

Paul Waldman: “This isn’t just hardball politics. This is a fundamentally anti-democratic approach to government, one that says that when we win, we get to implement our agenda, and when you win, you don’t.”

“To put this in context, perhaps nowhere in the country have Republicans moved more aggressively to solidify power by disenfranchising their opponents as they have in North Carolina.”

North Carolina Strips New Governor of Power

North Carolina legislators wrapped up their work on a pair of controversial bills that would deprive the incoming governor of a substantial part of his power to make appointments, and reshuffle the regulation of lobbyists, ethics complaints and elections, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has already signed one of the bills.

North Carolina GOP Moves to Strip Governor of Power

“Republicans in the North Carolina legislature on Wednesday took the highly unusual step of moving to strip power from the incoming Democratic governor after a bitter election that extended years of fierce ideological battles in the state,” the New York Times reports.

“After calling a surprise special session, Republican lawmakers who control the General Assembly introduced measures to end the governor’s control over election boards, to require State Senate approval of the new governor’s cabinet members and to strip his power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees.”

Rick Hasen: “And here’s the kicker: any lawsuit over these alleged rules will end up before the state Supreme Court with its new Democratic majority, unless the special session itself produces a court-packing plan, and if that happens the Court itself would have to resolve a key question about its own membership.”

First Read: “It is one thing to lose a close race. It’s another thing to be bitter about it. But it’s ENTIRELY different to try to jam through changes to strip away your opponent’s powers. This is partisanship gone too far, and it’s corrosive to our democracy.”

Early Ballots Show Clinton Strength in North Carolina

“Seven weeks before Election Day, the earliest numbers from advance voting for president show initial strength for Hillary Clinton in swing state North Carolina, good news for Donald Trump in battleground Iowa and a record number of requests for ballots in Ohio,” the AP reports.

“The first early voting figures Tuesday are too preliminary to serve as clear indicators about how the election will go. Still, they are of interest because, unlike polls, they deal with actual voters either casting ballots or taking their first steps to do so. Campaigns are scrutinizing these figures to help guide their strategies.”

North Carolina Loses NCAA Tournament

“Since the North Carolina legislature last March passed House Bill 2, a controversial law restricting transgender bathroom access and limiting the civil rights and bathroom usage of the LGBT community, the state has lost the NBA All-Star Game, Bruce Springsteen and other concerts and conventions and an untold amount of revenue,” the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“Now North Carolina is losing the NCAA tournament. The NCAA announced on Monday that the seven championships scheduled in the state during this academic year, including NCAA men’s basketball tournament games in Greensboro, would be relocated because of House Bill 2, better known as HB2.”

Supreme Court Blocks Voting Rules In North Carolina

“A divided Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal by North Carolina seeking to revive stricter state voting rules, which reduced the number of days for early voting and required photo identification at the polls,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The high court, in a brief written order, declined to stay an appeals-court ruling from July that struck down North Carolina’s Republican-backed voting rules. The appeals court found state lawmakers enacted the rules with the intent to discriminate against black voters.”

Rick Hasen: “The fact that this petition got four votes should be very depressing to those who have been hoping that perhaps Justice Kennedy and the Chief Justice would have had a change of heart on voter ID laws.”