James's blog


My wife Jane wants to talk about the Kavanaugh clusterfuck, and I feel obliged to hear her out. She's trying to make sense of something that is hideously unfair and grotesque. I know I can't help, but I listen. It's heart-breaking in every way.

Two, four, six, eight, no amendments, no debate

In case you haven't heard, the amendment mess is even worse than we thought. With half of the latest special session behind us (the Senate meets on Monday), no one knows what which amendments will be on the ballot and which will not. Since the House didn't repeal the two amendments challenged by Cooper and the NAACP, will those need to be on the ballot? Could be. It all depends on whether the clowns in the legislature figure out how to stop shooting themselves in the foot.

Out-of-state funders will spend $5 million to push the unnecessary Victims' Rights Amendment

No one knows how many amendments will be on the November ballot, but it's a safe bet one of them will be about victims' rights. Backers of the amendment would have us believe there's no way to protect victims' rights without amending the North Carolina Constitution -- again -- to make victims an even more protected class. That's just nonsense. Every single thing proponents want to do with this amendment could be done using regular legislation.

NC Constitution: A primer

The NC Constitution of 1776

Although the constitution affirmed the separation of power between the three branches of government, the General Assembly held the true power. Until 1836, the General Assembly members were the only state officials who were elected by the people. The General Assembly picked Judges, the Governor and the members in the Council of State. Judges had life terms and governors had a one-year term. The Governor had little power and in many cases needed the consent of the Council of State to exercise the power that the office did hold. The Governor was also held to strict term limits; a person could only hold the office three terms in every six years. The constitution established a judicial branch, but did not well define this branch's structure. The constitution also lacked a system of local government. Universal suffrage was not an element of this constitution. Only landowners could vote for Senators until 1857. To hold state office required land ownership until 1868.

Constitution of 1868

Dissatisfied with the central role of the General Assembly, a state constitutional convention was called in 1835. Out of the convention came many amendments. Among those changes was fixing the membership of the Senate and House at their present levels, 50 and 120. Also, the office of Governor became popularly elected. The convention’s proposed changes were adopted by vote of the people on November 9, 1835. In 1865, Governor William W. Holden called for a Conference to write a new Constitution; it was rejected by a popular vote. Two years later, they reconvened. The new Constitution gave more power to the people and to the governor.

Victims rights amendment: A wolf in sheep's clothing?

The N&O decided to weigh in on my belief that the Victims Rights Amendment would open the door to undermining abortion rights in North Carolina. Their "experts" seem to think that the amendment as proposed would be faithfully implemented by a well-meaning legislature and would have nothing to do with abortion. What the heck are those experts smoking and where can I get some?


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