AG JOSH STEIN SUPPORTS CHALLENGE OF COLUMBUS COUNTY SHERIFF: Republican Jody Greene unseated then-Columbus County Sheriff and Democrat Lewis Hatcher by just 34 votes this fall. Several protests of those results are pending with the state Board of Elections. Under state law and the North Carolina Constitution, an election shall not be certified while such petitions are pending. Nonetheless, Columbus County officials swore in Jody Greene as sheriff last month. A state elections board spokesman said Greene should not have been sworn in and that Hatcher should still be Columbus County sheriff. A petition against his victory includes charges that absentee ballots were mishandled by L. McRae Dowless. Dowless is the campaign operative at the heart of the investigation into alleged election fraud in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. The North Carolina Attorney General's office authorized Hatcher's attorney to file a superior court complaint on behalf of the state.
DURHAM MULLS FATE OF TOPPLED CONFEDERATE STATUE: A North Carolina city will unveil a proposal for the fate of a Confederate monument toppled by protesters in 2017. Durham's city and county government will hear recommendations Tuesday about what to do with the statue of an anonymous soldier that stood in front of the old county courthouse. The government committee spent eight months studying the issue. The statue has been in storage. The statue was torn down in the days after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Durham statue came down about a year before another Confederate monument was toppled at the state's flagship public university. A dozen protesters were charged in the Durham statue toppling, but a prosecutor dropped charges against most after a judge dismissed two defendants' cases and found a third not guilty.
UNC FACULTY FORMS COMMITTEE TO INFLUENCE SILENT SAM DECISIONS: Several faculty leaders on Monday expressed frustration that the two university governing bodies have had no direct consultation with faculty and no open deliberations. All debate has occurred in closed door executive sessions, with board leaders saying they are operating under exceptions for legal issues in the state’s open meetings law. Rumay Alexander, the university’s chief diversity officer and associate vice chancellor, said the faculty’s resolution creates an implicit suggestion that “there is some mistrust here” between faculty and the administration. “I think it is explicit and implicit, and unequivocal, that there is lack of trust,” answered Cary Levine, an art history professor. Eric Muller, a law professor, said faculty have not been included in any high level discussions and their suggestions “were dead on arrival.” “There has not been a single word, not one, of public discussion about this memorial, ever, at all, by any decision-making body,” Muller said. “Everything has been done in ways that have, not intentionally, but have ended up not triggering public meeting requirements.”
HOPES SHRINKING THAT SUPREME COURT WILL STRIKE DOWN PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING: The now firmly conservative Court likely took the cases not to announce that such activities violate the Constitution, but to reverse the lower courts that said they do. Although Kennedy’s replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, did not decide any gerrymandering cases as a lower-court judge, his general disposition lines him up with the other conservatives on the Court who believe that the judiciary has no business policing gerrymandering. In the Maryland and North Carolina cases the Court just took, both lower courts were willing to act as the police. Because of a procedural quirk, a decision by the Supreme Court not to hear these cases would have counted as an acknowledgment that the lower courts got the question right. So there’s every reason to expect 5–4 reversals unless a conservative justice or two goes rogue, or gets cold feet.
TRUMP TO GO ON NATIONAL TELEVISION TONIGHT ON BORDER WALL SHUTDOWN CRISIS: President Trump unleashed an offensive on Monday to persuade Americans that a “humanitarian and security crisis” on the southern border must be addressed before a government shutdown can end, announcing a prime-time address for Tuesday and a trip to the border later in the week. Vice President Mike Pence briefed reporters on the status of negotiations in a hastily arranged session, part of an orchestrated effort to sway balking Democrats who say the government should reopen while they wrangle over Mr. Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to begin his border wall. The shutdown, heading into Day 18, has become a critical test for Mr. Trump, who campaigned as a master negotiator and deal maker but so far has achieved virtually no agreements with Democrats. Already, it is the second-longest breakdown in government funding in the nation’s history, affecting about 800,000 federal workers, many of whom will miss their first paycheck this week.