Republican bullies

Magistrate ignores 2013 court finding with ban on Reverend Barber

Refusing to acknowledge dictates from judges is becoming a habit with Republicans:

The ban also applies to 31 other protesters arrested that day during a health-care sit-in after they refused to clear the hallways outside legislative leaders’ office. The ban was a condition of the protesters’ release from jail, set by Wake County magistrate Jeffrey L. Godwin as he charged them with second-degree trespassing. General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said Friday that his agency didn’t ask the magistrate to set those conditions, but he said he plans to make the request for future arrests of protesters.

Geeta Kapur, an attorney for Barber and the NAACP, says the ban is unconstitutional. She points to the provision in the state constitution that says “the people have a right to assemble together ... to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” She pointed to a 2013 decision by a judge to throw out a similar ban on arrested protesters. Since then, most arrests at “Moral Monday” protest events have not included a ban on entering the Legislative Building as a condition of release.

The GOP is notorious for resurrecting bad ideas and questionable legal practices every few years or so, just to see if they will stick, and this ban is no different. And if another judge throws it out, they'll do it again next year or the year after. Precedent? We don't need no stinking precedent, we make this shit up as we go.

NC Democrats only granted symbolic role in GOP budget negotiations

To seem rather than to be:

Eight state House Democrats, including Rep. Elmer Floyd of Fayetteville and Rep. Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake, were invited to the Republican-controlled table to help negotiate the final version of the $22.9 billion North Carolina budget this month.

House and Senate lawmakers began meeting behind closed doors this past Monday to work out their differences in the budget, which they are supposed to pass into law no later than June 30. Lucas said on Thursday said he had not yet been invited to attend one of the work sessions. In these negotiations, Lucas said, it’s better to keep quiet about what you want because the other side can use that against you.

Bolding mine, because that is some seriously immature behavior. Maybe they should try reverse psychology? "Please don't fund this affordable housing project, and why don't we cut those godawful food stamps, too?" But you know what? Lucas is right. There are some things in the House Budget I want to see survive these negotiations, but I have decided (this year) to not blog about those things here at BlueNC, for fear of making them a target for removal. How screwed up is that? And along the lines of "reverse psychology," I'm tempted to cheer this guy on, in the hopes my approval will sour his position:

GOP-led NC Senate tries to strangle Cooper administration via budget cuts

The sheer scale of these irresponsible actions is breathtaking:

Meanwhile, the Department of Environmental Quality's operating budget is reduced by 6 percent in the proposed budget, with Chief Deputy Secretary John Nicholson, a retired Marine colonel among those whose jobs would be eliminated. The Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service, which works with businesses and communities with environmental regulations and permitting, boosting recycling, energy efficiency and cutting emissions, would be gutted, losing 46 positions in its Raleigh and regional offices.

The Office of Science Technology & Innovation in the Department of Commerce would be eliminated, and funding to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center would be cut by 5 percent. The budget for the Wildlife Resources Commission would be cut by 18 percent. The Department of Transportation would lose 400 positions, and another 183 positions that oversee picking up litter and roadside trash also would be eliminated.

In political analysis, it's not always easy to ferret out the "underlying" motives behind certain actions. A gut response would tell you Republican leaders are merely punishing Roy Cooper for both winning the election and taking an outspoken stance of opposition. I'm sure that's partly true, but I have a feeling these department cuts have another goal: To put the Governor and his senior staff into "crisis" mode, to make them scramble to repair the breeches in personnel and shuffle the workload, to keep them so busy just trying to perform the basic functions of government they won't have time to strategize about fighting the Constitutional overreach of the Legislative Branch. But (of course) it will also be the people of North Carolina who will suffer from this asinine and childish behavior.

Fascism Watch: Campus protest goes out with a whimper

When a handful of written words becomes a vocal gag:

The constituent institution shall implement a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under the jurisdiction of a constituent institution who substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity when the expressive activity has been scheduled pursuant to this policy or is located in a nonpublic forum.

The 1st Amendment has always been a confusing and controversial concept, because for every opinion, there is an opposing one. It was true in 1789 when the Bill of Rights was demanded by the separate states before they would ratify the Constitution, and it's true today. But for all the lofty arguments and debate about who infringes on whom, or yelling "Fire!" in a theater, the overriding message of the 1st Amendment is that government should not be in the business of dictating who gets to speak and who doesn't. And delegating that decision-making to some Orwellian committee doesn't negate the General Assembly's huge Constitutional blunder with this bill:

Excerpts from Governor Cooper's newest lawsuit opposing GOP power grab

Just the fact he is forced to do this is infuriating:

4. This General Assembly's continued, direct attacks on executive authority unconstitutionally infringe on the Governor's executive powers in violation of separation of powers, and improperly delegate legislative power without adequate guiding standards. N.C. CONST. art. I, § 6; id. art. II, § 1; id. art. Ill, §§ 1, 5(4).

5. As our Supreme Court recently observed, "The election of a particular candidate signifies public support for that candidate's platform, policies, and ideology." Young v. Bailey, 368 N.C. 665, 671, 781 S.E.2d 277, 281 (2016). Here, the General Assembly's efforts to disempower the Office of the Governor fail to respect the will of the electorate in selecting him as North Carolina's chief executive.

And just to clarify, neither Berger nor Moore can plead ignorance in taking these steps. They know exactly what they're doing when they violate the word and the spirit of the NC Constitution, and the fact they would so casually do it, merely for partisan gain, is such an abuse of the public's trust it boggles the mind. Here's more:

Republican judge retires early from CoA to protect the Court from GOP machinations

Pay attention, lawmakers, because this message is clear:

McCullough is one of three Republican members of the court approaching mandatory retirement. State law in North Carolina requires judges to retire at 72. McCullough, whose term does not expire until 2018, would have had to retire by May 28. McCullough’s letter to Cooper was brief.

In it he said, “it is my firm belief that it is appropriate that I retire now rather than wait approximately thirty-six more days I would be required to retire by operation of the law.” In an interview, McCullough said he retired several weeks early because he did not want his legacy to be an “impairment to the appeals court” by reducing its size.

Get that? Judge McCullough is retiring anyway, so he wouldn't have to suffer from cases piling up under only four 3-judge panels. And he knew good and well his replacement would be a Democrat. Those things did not matter. Protecting the viability and integrity of the NC Court of Appeals is the only thing that mattered to him, and every single GOP Legislator needs to keep that in mind when the Veto override vote gets called. Just because you can do a thing, it doesn't automatically follow that you should. Also, hat-tip to Roy Cooper for choosing John Arrowood. Because quality and equality in one capable package.

Cooper Veto imminent on GOP's court-packing scheme

Trying to defend the Separation of Powers:

The General Assembly passed House Bill 239 this week, which would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 and add more than 100 cases per year to the state Supreme Court’s workload. Gov. Roy Cooper plans to veto the legislation.

“The Republican effort to reduce the number of judges on the Court of Appeals should be called out for exactly what it is – their latest power-grab, aimed at exerting partisan influence over the judicial branch and laying the groundwork for future court-packing,” states a press memo from his office.

This is more than just a political ploy; Republicans are, in essence, eroding the rights of citizens to receive justice, by intentionally overburdening the system to justify changing the makeup of the Supreme Court. It's not unlike a fireman engaging in arson so he can get a pay raise. The GOP wants to dominate the Supreme Court however they can accomplish it, and if that means your case doesn't get heard for another year or two, oh well. If you were wrongfully imprisoned, just eat your three square meals a day and shut the hell up.

GOP's "campus free speech" legislation actually violates 1st Amendment

Also known as the Authoritarian Libertarian conundrum:

State legislators have filed two “campus free speech” bills that on their face would eventually force UNC-Chapel Hill and perhaps other campuses in the UNC system to revise some of their campus-conduct rules and procedures.

As introduced, the N.C. House bill would require the system Board of Governors to prescribe “a range of disciplinary sanctions” for anyone affiliated with a UNC campus “who interferes with the free expression of others.” A board committee would monitor the campuses’ handling of that.

That's right, if you argue with somebody because you don't agree with what they are proselytizing about, you will be disciplined for speaking out. It would be bad enough if the publicly-funded university came up with this, but to have state government enshrine that into statute is *exactly* why the 1st Amendment was added to the Constitution. To keep government from deciding who gets to speak and who doesn't. Yes, it gets messy sometimes, like when Tom Tancredo couldn't get a word in edgewise over protesters on the UNC campus. But stifling those voices of dissent is not the way to cure that messiness, it's how you end up with a place where the word "democracy" becomes nothing more than a label. Let's take a trip to the Goldwater Institute to see where this craziness originated:

Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

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