Republican bullies

Primer on the NC GOP's war on the court system

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A systematic and sustained effort to subvert the judiciary:

Number of actions they've taken in recent years to change the makeup and independence of state, district and local courts: at least 12

Date on which the N.C. legislature sustained a bill eliminating judicial primary elections that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed: 10/16/2017

Days later that they introduced a bill to wipe out the terms of all state judges, from the N.C. Supreme Court to the district courts, at the close of 2018 and require them to run again: 1

Hat-tip to the Institute for Southern Studies for compiling this list. Every single one of those Legislative Republicans who are licensed attorneys should be disbarred for these attacks, or at least formally (and loudly) censured by the NC Bar Association. Follow the link to see the true depth of the GOP's meddling, but here's another taste:

NC Republicans jump the shark on judicial elections

Trying to slash their terms to two years:

Chairmen of the House and Senate rules committees released a proposal Tuesday that would reduce terms for trial and appeals court judges to two years. District Court judges currently serve four-year terms, while Superior Court and Court of Appeals judges and Supreme Court justices get eight-year terms.

Under the proposal, voters would decide in May whether to reduce the terms and put all incumbents up for re-election the following November. Legislative support for the bill is unclear, and a news release announcing the bill suggests it could be designed to spite Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

These guys are simply out of control. Probably 95% of North Carolinians would prefer to see less politics influencing the judiciary, but forcing these judges to run every two years will put them on a constant campaign footing, just like Congress and the Legislature. They're literally turning into gameshow hosts with their behavior, circulating rumors of taking away judicial elections completely, and then opening the curtains with flair proclaiming, "Even more elections! Elections all the time! Whee!" Dog help us.

The unmitigated arrogance of the power-mad NC GOP

Stripping more authority from Governor Cooper:

Exploring the rise of Unaffiliated voters in NC

Fiercely independent or simply tired of the drama?

North Carolina political scientists, activists and strategists said in interviews there are political and societal reasons for the shift. Having no affiliation also can be attractive because these voters can choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary — so candidates from the parties must keep learning how to win their support.

The bitter political atmosphere within the two-party system is a likely cause for the shift, said Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College politics professor studying registration trends. Forty percent of the registered voters known as millennials — those born since 1981 — are unaffiliated and the largest bloc among their age group, according to Bitzer’s research. “Being children of political polarization, maybe this is a clear sign that they are not willing to associate with either party,” Bitzer said, noting these voters aren’t necessarily moderates: “Being unaffiliated does not mean you’re not partisan.”

But it does mean expecting candidates to figure out what you want, in the absence of any defining trait, is somewhere between unwise and disingenuous. I will accept the Democratic Party hasn't always communicated a clear and concise message about what we stand for, but I also believe many new voters are afraid to align themselves with anything, for fear of ending up on the "losing" side. What we need to do (as always) is better articulate the dangers of GOP policies while also formulating and highlighting genuine alternatives to those policies. Because without the beef, it's just an insult sandwich that nobody wants to continue eating.

Republican supporter of non-partisan redistricting gets double-bunked

But Jon Hardister has a fix for that, says he will move to Whitsett:

State Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Greensboro) plans on moving to eastern Guilford County to avoid having to run against a GOP colleague under the Republican-led redistricting proposal legislators are poised to adopt.

In the new plan being finalized this week, Hardister and state Rep. John Faircloth (R-High Point) both live in Guilford County’s proposed state House of Representatives’ District 61. Faircloth represents the current District 61 and plans to run for re-election in 2018.

I'm tempted to act all Nostradamus-like because this is almost exactly what I warned Republicans about in this Op-Ed column, but I don't want to put the kibosh on Bill Cook leaving, so I'll leave the bragging for later. As far as Jon is concerned, if there's going to be a Republican taking over this new District, then I'm glad it's going to be him.

NC GOP uses attacks on Roy Cooper to distract from its failures

Filing a baseless complaint about campaign finance violations:

The North Carolina Republican Party is questioning the legality of a fundraiser Gov. Roy Cooper held at a trial lawyers’ convention several weeks ago, a complaint that the governor’s campaign promptly denounced as “baseless.”

GOP Chairman Robin Hayes asked state election officials Wednesday to investigate Cooper’s mid-June event, which took place at a Sunset Beach resort where the North Carolina Advocates for Justice was holding its annual meetings.

No doubt this is in response to recent stories detailing the tons of money GOP Legislators have raked in during the 2017 Session, and/or the $50,000+ BergerMoore raked in from beer wholesalers to stifle the craft beer folks. Always with these guys, if they take an aggressive position on something, it's because they're trying to cover up their own transgressions in that area. Which is exactly what they're doing with the GENX controversy. When the Cooper administration called for additional funding to deal with the crisis, the facts surrounding the General Assembly's drastic and reckless cuts of those agencies since 2013 came to light. And knowing the public would hold them partially responsible for the crisis because of those cuts, Republicans dashed off a letter disguised as a "fact-finding" probe, when in reality, it's geared towards justifying their previous irresponsible behavior:

Josh Stein lays off 45 at AG's office, still not enough

GOP budget cuts are recklessly endangering the administration of justice in NC:

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Thursday that he has eliminated 45 positions in the state Department of Justice after the state budget adopted earlier this summer included a surprise $10 million budget cut.

“What I’m telling you today is, we can’t do the last third,” said Stein, a Democrat in his first term. “The last third will put too much damage, too much risk on the public’s safety. For that reason, we are repeating our call to the General Assembly: ‘Please, protect the people of North Carolina, and find a way to fill this gap.’ ”

What you're seeing right now might be the true danger of gerrymandering, lawmaking that actually imperils the safety of the citizenry. Under a more competitive districting situation, such reckless behavior could be corrected in the voting booth. But when your power is guaranteed by crooked maps, you don't really care what the voters think.

Add judges to that list of GOP cuts to legal professionals

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Our entire system of justice is being put at risk:

According to the latest lists released by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), there are now only 10 active emergency superior court judges and 25 emergency district court judges. Prior to the July 1 effective date of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, there were 42 emergency superior court judges and 72 emergency district court judges. The new list reflects an overall reduction of 69.2%.

According to emails obtained by NC Policy Watch, the cuts were causing concerns in the court system even days after the budget was passed.

I'm sure they were. In any given month, NC's Superior and District Courts handle over 15,000 cases. And they've been doing so under an ever-shrinking budget since Republicans took over the General Assembly. Understand, these are both civil and criminal cases, and some of the latter deal with violent criminals. When you refuse to fund the system properly, the number of violent criminals who plea bargain their case down increases, and the number of victims who never get their day in court increases also. Making this a public safety issue, put in the irresponsible hands of unqualified politicians and their lackeys:

Guilford County Commission joins war against News & Record

If you don't like the reporting, kill the newspaper:

WHEREAS, in recent action, the North Carolina General Assembly has taken measures to advance communication options among local governments with the creation of HB 205 that sought to modernize the publication of legal advertisements and public notices to allow Guilford County, and any municipality in Guilford County, in lieu of printed publication, the option to post legal advertisements and notices on the county web site; and,

WHEREAS, not only does the option of electronic noticing broaden customer service and foster public participation, it also serves to provide an efficient and cost-effective means of communication all at the click of a button.

I realize many reading this do not subscribe to a daily newspaper, and get their information online instead. As such, you may be tempted to agree with this policy change, or (maybe worse) find yourself indifferent. But this is not about increasing dissemination of legal notices, it's about defunding an already struggling publication, the Greensboro News & Record. The N&R has been a strong, mostly progressive voice in the region, and has called out Republicans countless times for their inhumane and often unconstitutional actions. But aside from that "kill the paper" goal of this bill, the very premise that shifting that information online will increase the number of people who see them is faulty, for several reasons. The most obvious reason is the low traffic to the site, but here's another: In order to host all those legal notices, the government website will likely cache them in pdf files, further burying that information. That's not just my opinion:

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