Tag Archives: North Carolina

Republicans Must Turn Over Emails On North Carolina Voting Law, Federal Judge Rules

 

The Huffington Post

State Republicans hand over key e-mails

Any race-related emails that North Carolina Republicans may have sent in connection with the voter restrictions they passed last summer could soon be public, thanks to a ruling by a federal judge.

Before the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, simply demonstrating a discriminatory impact could be enough to overturn a discriminatory law. Now, in order to have North Carolina’s voting law struck down, civil rights groups and the Justice Department have to demonstrate that state lawmakers deliberately engaged in racial discrimination against voters.

The sweeping law requires voters to show certain forms of photo identification, eliminates same-day registration and reduces early voting — all measures which voting rights advocates say are intended to make it harder for Democratic-leaning minorities to vote.

The emails sent by legislators are crucial to proving racial motivations played some role in the legislation.

North Carolina wanted to keep legislator emails secret. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake ruled Thursday that the state couldn’t withhold all the emails. She did, however, say that North Carolina might be able to argue that emails only between legislators and their staffers could be kept private.

Of course, if legislators have nothing to hide about the motivations for passing the restrictive laws, they can individually waive their legislative immunity, as Peake noted.

Voting rights advocates welcomed the judge’s decision.

“North Carolinians have a right to know what motivated their lawmakers to make it harder for them to vote,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “Legislators should not be shrouding their intentions in secrecy. The people deserve better.”

In previous voting rights cases, legislator emails have demonstrated racial motivations. A legislator in South Carolina replied “Amen” when a constituent compared black voters to a “swarm of bees going after a watermelon,” while in Texas, a Republican member of Congress acknowledged wanting to move a country club from a heavily Hispanic district into his own, in order to increase the number of white voters.

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Filed under North Carolina, Voter Disenfranchisement

5 important political stories to watch in 2014

Would Boehner lead another shutdown? | Photo: (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Week – Taegan Goodard

1. Will Republicans win back control of the Senate?Most political forecasters give Democrats a minuscule chance of taking back the House of Representatives, so most attention will be on the six seats Republicans need to have the majority in the upper chamber.

The seven most vulnerable seats all belong to Democrats right now: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

2. Will Congress pass immigration reform? A bill has passed the Senate but House leaders refuse to bring it up. Considering the inability of this Congress to pass almost anything, it’s hard to give much hope to immigration reform — particularly in an election year.

However, two things could force the issue. First, national Republicans know they must improve the party’s standing with Hispanic voters and immigration reform is a key issue for this increasingly important voting bloc. Second, Speaker John Boehner has given signs he may move pieces of the Senate bill independently.

3. Will there be another fiscal showdown? Despite a bipartisan budget deal earlier this month, another major battle could be coming in the New Year over the debt ceiling. The federal government is expected to exhaust its borrowing authority by the end of February.

Though many Republicans want to use the event as leverage over the Obama administration to cut spending or tie it to legislation the White House opposes, the politics are brutal for the GOP. The self-inflicted wounds of the government shutdown on the Republican party are still raw and could act to prevent a major battle.

4. Will ObamaCare be a big issue for the midterm elections? Republicans will do everything in their power to tie the unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act to Democrats like they did in the 2010 midterms. It helped them retake control of the House.

But the White House is throwing every resource at their disposal to get the law implemented and move beyond the problems that crippled the health care exchange website. If millions of people are getting health insurance they otherwise could not afford by summer, it could end up being a non-issue or even a positive for Democrats.

5. Who knows? Politics is amazingly unpredictable except one thing is almost certain: There is usually a big political story we cannot predict.

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Filed under GOP Leadership

Justice Department Calls In The Big Guns To Stop Voter Suppression

Pamela Karlan

Pamela Karlan

This post is a couple of days old but very relevant in the months to come…

Think Progress

It’s difficult to exaggerate the prominence Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan enjoys within the progressive legal community. Karlan is one of the most active members of the Supreme Court bar — among other things, she co-authored the brief that convinced the justices to strike down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act last June. She is a former litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and she is among the most widely regarded voting rights experts in the nation. If President Obama had shown more courage in the early years of his presidency, or if Senate Democrats had deployed the nuclear option sooner, she would be a federal appellate judge today. Many Court watchers, including myself, would choose her if we could place only one person on the Supreme Court.

So when the Justice Department revealed on Friday that Karlan would become the nation’s top voting rights attorney, it was as if Marsellus Wallace called up the many voters being disenfranchised in states like Texas and North Carolina, and told them that he’s sending The Wolf.

Karlan will take over as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights section. In this role, she will oversee the Justice Department’s most important challenges to voter suppression laws — including its efforts to restore federal oversight of Texas’ election law and its challenge to the nation’s worst voter suppression law in North Carolina.

As a senior member of the Civil Rights Division, Karlan will work under soon-to-be Assistant Attorney General Debo Adegbile, who President Obama recently nominated as the nation’s top civil rights attorney. Like Karlan, Adegbile is himself a leading expert on voting rights law – indeed, he twice appeared before the Supreme Court to try to save the Voting Rights Act from the Court’s conservative majority.

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Filed under United States Dept. of Justice, Voting Rights Act

GOP Governor: We Didn’t ‘Shorten Early Voting,’ We ‘Compacted The Calendar’

Pat McCrory speaks to supporters at his election night headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 after being elected governor of North Carolina as his wife Ann, back, looks on. (Chuck Burton/AP)

What matters is what something is...not what it’s called.  North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory is not being truthful…

The Huffington Post

On Aug. 13, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law a voter ID bill that was widely denounced by civil rights advocates. Not only did it mandate government-issued photo IDs at the polls, but it reduced the state’s early voting period from 17 to 10 days.

According to McCrory, however, he didn’t actually shorten the voting.

“First of all, we didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” said McCrory in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Wednesday. “But we’re going to have the same hours in which polls are open in early voting, and we’re going to have more polls available. So it’s going to be almost identical. It’s just the schedule has changed. The critics are kind of using that line when in fact, the legislation does not shorten the hours for early voting.”

Thanks to an amendment from a Democratic state senator, the law specifies that North Carolina must continue to offer the same number of aggregate early voting hours as were available in 2012 for presidential elections and 2010 for midterm elections. But it still took away seven calendar days that were previously available to North Carolina voters to head to the polls.

The law also ended same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 on Election Day.

Studies have shown that voter restrictions tend to disproportionately impact women, minorities and low-income voters — demographics that tend to swing Democratic.

In September, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against North Carolina, charging that the law intentionally discriminated against minority voters.

McCrory insisted in his interview on Wednesday that there was nothing political about the law.

A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School found that early voting has been popular in North Carolina. At least 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have laws that allow individuals to vote early and in person without an excuse, according to the Brennan Center. North Carolina is one of the nine states with the highest rates of participation.

Michael Dickerson, director of elections for Mecklenburg County, N.C., said the early voting period reduced the rush of people on the evening of Election Day. Rosemary Blizzard, the board of elections director for Wayne County, said there is more “time to control things” during early voting, and this “helps to make sure that everyone who is entitled to a ballot gets a ballot. It’s just harder to do that on Election Day.”

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Filed under North Carolina, Voter Suppression

Senator Obliterates GOP Talking Point On Obamacare’s Maternity Coverage In 60 Seconds

 

Senate HELP committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) greets CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner at a hearing on Tuesday | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

Think Progress

During a hearing on Obamacare implementation Tuesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a powerful rebuttal to those criticizing the Affordable Care Act’s inclusion of maternity care coverage as one of ten “essential health benefits” categories that insurance companies must offer consumers under the health law.

ACA critics have held up the maternity coverage requirement as a prime example of excessive Obamacare regulations that will drive up insurance policy prices by forcing plans to include frilly benefits that a consumer may not need. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) sarcastically asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius if she had ever hear of a man giving birth during a House hearing last week, and numerous critical media accounts have picked up on the argument.

Harkin responded to this line of thinking on Tuesday by comparing the overall societal value of the coverage requirement to the value of public education, which is funded through property taxes:

HARKIN: Now, I must say there was a story the other day in the paper about somebody who said, “Now I got — I have to take this policy that covers maternity care. My wife and I are not having more children. Why should I have to have a policy that covers maternity care?” I got to thinking about that. I thought, you know what? Maybe because my wife and I do not have any more children and they are grown up, maybe I should not have to pay property taxes to pay for my local schools. Huh? Why should I worry about it? Maybe only people who have kids going to the public school should pay for it. We are better than that in this country. We are talking about being part of our society. It is to our benefit, my wife and I, to support our local schools because that is our next generation, we want them well taught.Same with health care. It is a values system.

A 2012 National Women’s Law Center study found that, even including states that already mandated maternity coverage before the ACA was passed, just 12 percent of total individual health plans in the country offered women maternity benefits.

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Filed under Affordable Care Act

North Carolina Republican switches party affiliation: ‘I guess being American just isn’t good enough’ for the GOP anymore

thigpen

North Carolina Republican congressional candidate, Jason Thigpen
[Image via Facebook]

Jason Thigpen is not the first GOP politician to come over to the left in recent weeks.   This indicates to me, that something is very wrong with today’s Republican Party…

The Raw Story

Yesterday, a North Carolina Republican congressional candidate switched his party affiliation to Democrat, saying that he “refuse[s] to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line.”

In a statement posted on his website, Jason Thigpen criticized the establishment candidate, Walter Jones, saying “[t]he GOP leadership has such little regard and faith in the more than 1 Million people whom live in NC’s 3rd Congressional District that they don’t believe even one of us are good enough to represent OUR District. So they sent a lobbyist who’s lived in Washington, D.C. for the last 15 or more years. What an insult.”

Earlier this year, Thigpen attacked the strict new North Carolina voting law, writing that “[y]ou can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it’s still a turd.”

Thigpen is a six-year Army veteran and, according to his website, a recipient of the Purple Heart. “I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans,” he writes of the Republican attempt to suppress the vote.

“So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable.”

Thigpen is challenging Walter Jones in the 3rd Congressional District. Jones, a Republican, is also facing a far-right challenger with Tea Party affiliations.

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Filed under GOP Extremism, GOP Malfeasance

Republicans are Outraged

Daily Kos

Republicans are Outraged – that Americans are getting Affordable Health Care.

Republicans are Outraged – that Americans are NOT getting Affordable Health Care, fast enough.
Republicans are Outraged – that Americans have to pay Taxes.

Republicans are Outraged – that America’s Debt is NOT being paid down, fast enough.

Republicans are Outraged – that the Voter’s Right Act used to make them let everyone Vote.

Republicans are Outraged – that in Texas, North Carolina, and Virgina, there are way too many Women, Students, and poor people voting.

Republicans are Outraged – that so many Americans want to Vote.

Republicans are Outraged – that even with all their Gerrymandered Districts, they still lose Elections.

Republicans are Outraged – that so many Americans do NOT hate Government like they do.

Republicans are Outraged – that so many Americans just want a Government that works –because as recent history shows, that’s just NOT what they DO!
… Provide us a Government that works?  Hah!

Because in their world-view, THAT would be simply Outrageous!

H/t: DB

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Filed under Republicans, U.S. Politics

North Carolina GOP Official Who Called Blacks ‘Lazy’ In Daily Show Voter ID Interview Resigns

This article was scheduled for posting this morning.  I apologize for the delay…

*******

The guy being interviewed is one of many officials in North Carolina that have given Black students in particular North Carolina precincts, voting problems beyond belief for this day and age.  Good riddance is the nice way of watching this man’s exit from the NC legislation process.

The Huffington Post

A Republican precinct official in North Carolina resigned from his position Thursday, after The Daily Show aired a segment on the state’s voter ID lawin which he criticized “lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything.”

Don Yelton stepped down from his position in the Buncombe County Republican Party, Buncombe GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell told WRAL.

“When I was a young man you didn’t call a black a black,” Yelton said during the interview. “You called him a negro.”

In a press release, the Buncombe GOP — which has the slogan “Moving forward without forgetting our past” on its website — called Yelton’s comments “offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party.”

“Let me make it very clear, Mr. Yelton’s comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon,” Mitchell stated. “This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party.”

Yelton “did not seek the approval of any party official before accepting the interview request,” officials said.

 

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Filed under North Carolina

Justice Department to challenge North Carolina voter ID law

Eric Holder is pictured. | AP Photo

The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates. | AP Photo

Politico

The Justice Department will file suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African Americans, according to a person familiar with the planned litigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit at 11 a.m. Monday at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. Attorneys from North Carolina.

The suit, set to be filed in Greensboro, N.C., will ask that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter ID law, the source said. However, the case will also go further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.

Until this year, 40 North Carolina counties were under such a requirement. However, in June, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the formula Congress used to subject parts or all of 15 states to preclearance in recent decades.

The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil rights advocates, but did not disturb a rarely-used “bail in” provision in the law that allows judges to put states or localities under the preclearance requirement. Civil rights groups and the Justice Department have since seized on that provision to try to recreate part of the regime that existed prior to the Supreme Court decision.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the voter ID measure into law last last month.

“Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” McCrory said at the time. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common sense safeguard is common-place.”

A law mandating a photo ID for voting was not on the books in North Carolina during the 2012 presidential election. Such a measure passed in 2011, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue (D). The legislature failed to override her veto.

According to the source, DOJ’s lawsuit will object to the law’s photo ID requirement as well as three other key provisions: the elimination of the first 7 days of early voting that took place in 2012, the end to same-day voter registration during the early voting period, and the end to the option of provisional ballots for voters who show up at the wrong polling place.

The complaint will allege that the law was passed with discriminatory intent and as part of a deliberate effort to deny African Americans the right to vote, the source said. A North Carolina Board of Elections study in April of this year found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued ID. African Americans accounted for 34 percent of those who did not match with the DMV records, although they account for only about 22 percent of registered voters in the state.

DOJ moved in July to put Texas, which had been subject to preclearance statewide until the June Supreme Court ruling, back under preclearance requirements. That move came first in a pending lawsuit over redistricting in the state and later in another case over that state’s voter ID law.

Judges have yet to act on those requests. However, Gov. Rick Perry (R) complained that the Justice Department’s demand disrespected the Supreme Court decision.

“This end run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process,” Perry said in a statement.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that an Indiana voter ID law was constitutional. However, the justices did not deal with the question of whether that law or a similar law in another state might violate the Voting Rights Act. Civil rights advocates have insisted that the Voting Rights Act puts a greater burden on states seeking to restrict voting when doing so disproportionately affects minority groups.

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Filed under AG Eric Holder, Dept of Justice, Voter Suppression

MSNBC Chris Hayes Explains Obamacare For Dummies Fox & Friends

Mediaite

With the opening of state health insurance mere days away, and an apocalyptic fight over de-funding Obamacare raging in Congress, attention to the Affordable Care Act is at an all-time high, while accurate information about it remains at an all-time low in certain quarters. On Friday night,All In with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes held a brief For Dummies-style tutorial for Fox & FriendsSteve Doocy, and called out his rival for failing to do his job.

Hayes introduced the segment with a clip from his Thursday night interview with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) in which the Congresswoman elicits priceless reactions of earnest dismay from Hayes with her rapid-fire delivery of Obamacare disinformation. Then, accompanied by a graphic of a For Dummies book entitled “Obamacare for Fox & Friends” (get it? They’re dummies!), proceeded to correct some of the show’s misimpressions about the law.

He played a clip of Steve Doocy complaining about a delay, until November, in the implementation of online small business health insurance exchanges, which Hayes patiently explained is not the end of the world, since the plans don’t go into effect until January 1. “That’s like complaining you haven’t gotten your hamburger yet from a restaurant that doesn’t open until next freaking week,” Hayes said.

The key point here, though, is that health insurance is complicated, and in critiquing F&F, Hayes generously allows that their confusion may be genuine. Being confused about health insurance doesn’t make you a dummy, it just makes you like most people. It’s an incredibly complex subject, and much more difficult to explain than complain about. It’s also incredibly important. That’s why the news media, in fulfilling its duty to inform the public, has a higher than normal responsibility to bring clarity to the issue.

As Hayes put it, “Laws are big and often complicated, and it is genuinely difficult to figure out the details. They’re confusing, and what might happen in the future is difficult to predict. But that’s what those of us in the news media are paid to do.”

If that’s the case, then precious few of them are earning that paycheck.

Here’s the clip, from All In with Chris Hayes:

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Filed under Affordable Care Act, Chris Hayes