Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC SUPREME COURT SHOULD END RACIAL BIAS IN JURY SELECTION: North Carolina is one of very few states where appeals courts have never acknowledged discrimination against a juror of color and have allowed prosecutors to offer reasons for striking black jurors that are vague, suspect, and difficult to verify: the juror didn’t make eye contact, had an unusual hairstyle, or said “yeah” instead of “yes.” This week, North Carolina has a chance to confront a problem that has haunted the state for too long. The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear arguments on August 26 and 27 about the North Carolina Racial Justice Act (RJA). This groundbreaking law allowed people on death row to present evidence that racial bias played a role in their death sentences. After the law’s passage in 2009, a study of capital trials found that prosecutors removed qualified black jurors at more than twice the rate of white jurors. Thus, nearly half of North Carolina’s death row prisoners were tried by all-white juries or juries with only one person of color. If you doubt that the racial makeup of juries matters, remember that all-white juries have sent dozens of innocent black men to death row, including some of my clients.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article234076852.html

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

Saturday News: Orange Clown

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TRUMP HEADED TO NC TO CAMPAIGN FOR DAN BISHOP: “Looking forward to soon being in North Carolina to hold a big rally for wonderful Dan Bishop, who is running for Congress,” Trump tweeted. “His opponent wants Open Borders, Sanctuary Cities, and Socialism. He likes the “Squad” more than North Carolina.” Bishop is running against Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates in the Sept. 10 special election. Early voting started this week. McCready responded in a tweet of his own. “I didn’t come back from Iraq to see my country torn apart by petty lies and insults,” wrote McCready, a former Marine. “Let’s show them what real leadership looks like. . .”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article234306112.html

Republicans want to buy you for 34 cents a day. Tell them "no."

Here's an action you can take ... courtesy of WRAL:

When it comes to North Carolina’s budget surplus, here are some numbers the legislature’s leadership doesn’t want you to understand:

  • $17,680 a day – That’s the per diem ($104 to every member of the General Assembly) we spend while Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore procrastinate to block a vote sustaining Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.
  • 34 cents a day – That’s what each taxpayer gets (if extended over a year) under the $640 million scheme Berger and Moore announced to send 5.1 million taxpayers checks for $125.
  • $5.6 million -- That’s the ADDED COST Berger and Moore didn’t mention to do all this. It takes $2.8 million to process the checks and another $2.8 million for first-class postage.

We all know there are far better ways to spend this money and we want our legislators to be careful stewards of the state. That means making sure our tax dollars are spent to make our state healthy, educated and prosperous. These leaders have confessed, to The New York Times, that “we simply don’t have the money” to meet many of those obligations.

Racial Injustice: NC Supreme Court to decide Death Row cases

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Elections definitely have consequences:

With the racial-justice act out of the picture, the state appealed the re-sentencings in the four cases that had been decided under it, and in 2015, the North Carolina Supreme Court sent the cases back for further review, because the state had not been given enough time to respond to the Michigan State study on biased juror strikes.

Shortly after, state officials disregarded the state Supreme Court’s order and returned the four plaintiffs to death row without a court holding hearings or considering new evidence or arguments. The state still has not provided any explanation for the racial discrepancy in juror strikes, arguing only that the repeal of the law means the plaintiffs go back to death row.

This is (or should be) really a no-brainer for the Supreme Court. Prosecutors ignored their instructions to let the courts straighten things out, and in doing so, they literally usurped those judicial powers. The RJA cases *did not* free those inmates, they would still be incarcerated for life (without parole). And NC's defacto moratorium on executions should not be even considered in these cases. That could change at the drop of a hat, with unfairly prosecuted citizens receiving lethal injections. Once again for those in the back:

Friday News: That's not coverage

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MCCREADY DINGS BISHOP OVER FAULTY HEALTH CARE PLAN: That’s what health policy experts say could happen under Bishop’s bill. While the ACA requires plans to cover 10 “essential benefits” — from prescription drugs and rehabilitative services to chronic disease management — association plans are subject to looser standards and aren’t required to cover those essential benefits, she said. “As a simple example, you could allow people who have cancer to buy into the plan, but the plan might cover (pay for) zero cancer care — in effect removing coverage for the preexisting condition despite nominally allowing the person to purchase the insurance plan,” Lewis said. The Winston-Salem Journal story points out that Bishop’s bill “does not include guarantees of the essential benefits. An amendment to add the essential benefits to SB86 was tabled by a 28-20 vote in the Senate,” with Bishop voting to table it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article234278602.html

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