NC Supreme Court

Tillisberger: Ignore the law, let's barge ahead with vouchers

Judge Robert Hobgood was abundantly clear in his ruling on school vouchers: they're unconstitutional and the state is not allowed to disburse any voucher money.

Of course, Tillisberger didn't like that. And Tillisberger is used to getting their way. They're despotic and don't care much for the rule of law -- they just want to get their way.

So before the court's written ruling has even been issued, Tillisberger yanked the vouchers case away from North Carolina's attorney general, ignored the Court of Appeals and went directly to the NC Supreme Court demanding to disburse the illegal voucher money.

A three-judge appeals court panel rejected [the emergency] request [to disburse voucher funds] on Monday, saying it was premature to offer such a ruling without a written order from Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood.

The best justice money can buy

In case anyone remained under the illusion that judicial elections in NC were actually non-partisan, like they are officially billed to be, former NC Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake shatters that illusion.

In a firey [sic] plea for money, I. Beverly Lake, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, is rallying support for Bob Hunter in his campaign for a seat on the high court.

Lake, who reached mandatory retirement age in 2006, sent out a letter to Republican donors stating his case clearly:

“One justice can mean the difference between liberty and tyranny. … Since leaving the bench, I’ve watched liberal ‘activist judges’ rewrite the Constitution – and waited for one justice to stand up and say ‘No’ to the craziness going on in our courts.”

NC GOP tries to become immune from judicial checks and balances

The NC GOP, stung by a series of judicial rulings that their unconstitutional laws are...er...unconstitutional, isn't about to put up with that.

When judges get in their way of passing unconstitutional laws, Tillisberger just passes a new unconstitutional law.

After passing laws imposing new conditions on abortions and elections, taking away teacher tenure and providing vouchers for private school tuition, Republican state legislators have seen those policies stymied in state and federal courtrooms.

So they have passed another law, this one making those kinds of lawsuits less likely to succeed when filed in state court. Beginning in September, all constitutional challenges to laws will be heard by three-judge trial court panels appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

NC Supreme Court overturns injunction on private school vouchers

And the draining of public school resources continues:

The North Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court’s order to halt the state’s voucher program. That means the program can go on – at least for now. It’s a program that gives low-income families scholarships of up to $4,200 to help send their children to private schools.

“We are disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision,” said Edwin Dunlap, Jr., the Executive Director of the NCSBA, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. “The prudent thing would have been to answer these important constitutional questions before the state started spending public money on private schools.”

Yes, it would. It's also frustrating that nearly every time a high-profile decision is rendered by the NC Supreme Court these days, there's no mention in the media what the Court's vote was. That 4-3 or 5-2 or whatever used to be exposed in the first paragraph or so, but it doesn't seem to be an important factor anymore, at least in the eyes of news editors. Here's a clue: it is important, because the vote count itself tells a story. How strong and well-prepared the cases are, whether the majority is pushing the envelope on constitutionality, etc. It matters.

Op-Ed on Supreme Court race

In which I attempt to swing some votes:

Make no mistake, it’s no coincidence this third candidate jumped into the race, just as it’s no coincidence this latecomer has been on Art Pope’s payroll for several years at one of his “institutes.” This is a calculated move to exploit both a quirk in our elections laws and the general lack of knowledge and concern voters have over judicial contests. But those movers and shakers aren’t satisfied with merely unbalancing the boat and leaving this up to luck. Oh, no. In for a penny, in for a pound. And these folks got a lot of pounds.

I've had several disagreements with various pundits about the wisdom of attacking the third-party attackers. While it's true they are not going to be on the ballot, they are coming into everybody's living room and pushing their views onto voters. The best way to fight that and to make all that money work against them is to educate the voting public:

Shadow men gunning for Robin Hudson in the Primary

Over $100,000 in television ads contracted by the same group who gave us the bible-thumping ideologue Paul Newby:

As part of an article looking at how national political funders are getting involved in local judicial races, the Center for Public Integrity focused on $1.2 million from the Republican State Leadership Council. The money flowed through to an ad featuring a banjo-strumming narrator singing about how N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby is tough on crime, according to the report. (Newby, of course, ended up defeating challenger Sam Ervin IV, a N.C. Court of appeal judge, in the November election.)

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative news organization, found that “North Carolina’s Supreme Court election was arguably decided by groups like Justice for All — secretive nonprofits, unaffiliated with a candidate, whose money came from out of state.”

After the fiasco of 2012, this comes as no surprise to those of us who watched that catastrophe unfold. But this is happening right now, and we need to do everything we can to counter this propaganda.

The verdict is in: Race still decides juries in N.C.

The Racial Justice Act went to the Supreme Court this week. Now, the state’s highest court must decide how North Carolina should deal with troubling revelations of racial bias in capital trials.

The oral arguments Monday were about four defendants who have been resentenced to life in prison without parole after a Superior Court judge found “a wealth of evidence showing the persistent, pervasive, and distorting role of race in jury selection throughout North Carolina,” as well as in their individual cases.

However, the larger issue is this: As a result of the Racial Justice Act, a comprehensive study found that African-Americans are being systematically denied the right to serve on capital juries. A qualified black juror in North Carolina is more than twice as likely as a white juror to be removed with a peremptory strike.

Life or death: NC Supreme Court on trial today

Four Racial Justice Act cases under scrutiny:

This morning, the state supreme court will hear the cases of four defendants who were removed from death row under the state's racial justice act. The court will review whether the now repealed-act should apply to these defendants.

Experts say the state supreme court could come out with a narrowly tailored decision that would only affect those four people, or their decision could be broader and affect the more than 150 defendants who have filed motions for relief under the act.

It may be several days before the actual text of the arguments are made available, but we'll post them when we can.

Tillisberger to exercise ownership rights

It goes like this:

  1. Tillisberger & NC GOP pass unconstitutional voucher program.
  2. They get sued.
  3. An NC Superior Court ruling freezes implementation of the voucher program until the various court cases proceed.
  4. Tillisberger goes to NC Supreme Court to get the freeze on vouchers lifted. They promised those taxpayer $ to their private school profiteer buddies and dammit, they intend to deliver!

After all, the NC GOP paid good money to assume ownership of the NC Supreme Court. It's about time for a little bit of profit-taking, right?

Art Pope candidate forces runoff in non-partisan Supreme Court race against Dem on Court

The News and Observer reports on a surprise for the May primaries. State Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson - one of only two Democrats on the state's highest court - thought she was only going to have one challenger for her seat.

One of only two Democrats on the seven-member court, Hudson assumed she would be facing a general challenge in the fall from Mecklenburg County Superior Court Judge Eric Levinson, a Republican. But near the end of the filing period, a second opponent emerged, Jeanette Doran.

“She came out of nowhere,” Hudson said.

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