There’s something that’s just irresistible to some politicians about playing the role of bully. Maybe there’s some Freudian explanation traceable to schoolyard abuses of years gone by, but whatever the psychological explanations, it’s clear that North Carolina Republican lawmakers are just messing with us now because they can.
Having manufactured a crisis by drawing racially gerrymandered electoral maps and then moving up the May primary for no good reason to March, the GOP lawmakers are now responding to a court order to halt their unconstitutional actions by playing games. As WRAL.com reported last night:
“After federal judges ruled that two of North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutional because the race of voters was the primary factor used to create them, lawmakers decided Tuesday not to consider race at all when drawing new maps.
The new maps also will be drawn to maintain the Republican Party’s 10-3 advantage in the U.S. House, the Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting decided.”
But, of course, as Democratic critics noted at yesterday’s hearing, such an action is just as violative of federal law as using race in a discriminatory way. What’s more, the GOP lawmakers know this. As Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue reminded them yesterday:
“There are places in this state where the Voting Rights Act requires that race be considered to some degree. It’s transparent, the game you’re trying to play. It’s showing disrespect.”
Blue is absolutely right. What’s happening now is that Republican lawmakers, having been called out on their actions, are responding like petulant and oversized 14 year olds. Instead of taking immediate action to own up to their actions, delay the primary and craft responsible districts, they’re throwing a tantrum and pushing around still more kids on the playground, all while hoping that their favorite uncle (Supreme Court Justice John Roberts) will somehow bail them out.
One big problem with this strategy, however, is that Roberts may not have the juice to do so in the aftermath of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death this past weekend. With the Supremes now divided 4-4 on ideological lines, North Carolina Republicans may find themselves having to heed lower court orders to get their act together.
Like the schoolyard bully who now suddenly finds his rich parent or uncle unable to move an honest school principal, North Carolina Republican lawmakers may finally be about to get their comeuppance. Sadly, however, if this is the case, it looks like they’ll have to be dragged to the principal’s office kicking, screaming and unrepentant.