Courts & the Law, News, Trump Administration

The Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Conservative U.S. Supreme Court pick will face Democratic concern for the underrepresented, fallout over stolen seat

Conservative federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated Tuesday by President Donald Trump to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant for almost a year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump made the announcement during prime time from the East Room of the White House. He said he made a promise to the American people during his campaign to find the very best judge for the nation’s highest court and called his selection process one of the most transparent in history.

“I promised to pick someone who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution,” Trump said.

He went on to praise Gorsuch’s “extraordinary resume” and academic background, noting that he “has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support.” [Read more…]

2. NC political, historical experts reflect on Trump presidency

In a tumultuous first two weeks in office, President Donald Trump has broken with norms and precedents of his office, spawned dozens of lawsuits, generated historically low public approval numbers and some of the largest protests in U.S. history.

Historians and political scientists in North Carolina agree the Trump presidency is, in many ways, without precedent. They are also expressing concern about Trump’s impact on the institution of the presidency, the functioning of the nation’s government and the standing of the U.S. in the world.


William Leuchtenburg is one of the nation’s most respected historians. A professor emeritus of history at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he is the author of more than a dozen books on American history – a number on U.S. presidents. The latest, 2015’s The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, looks at the making of the modern presidency. However, Leuchtenburg said, the modern era has produced few presidents one could easily compare to Trump.[Read more…]

3. Why Burr and Tillis must reject any new Supreme Court nominee
Fundamental questions on legitimacy of Trump’s presidency must be answered first

These are extraordinary times. The President of the United States is, by every indication, a serial liar who genuinely seems incapable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood. He entered office on January 20 under a cloud of profound constitutional questions related to his fitness to serve and legitimate doubts about his loyalty to the country. His first days in office have been an unmitigated disaster and have featured repeated lies, disastrous cabinet appointees, outrageous conflicts of interest and a series of executive orders that were either horrifically destructive or absurdly and sophomorically nonsensical or both.

As the Capitol Broadcasting Company noted in a scathing and on-the-money editorial yesterday:

“It is not OK to have a president who barely has a casual relationship with the truth….[Read more…]

4. New state superintendent may find it hard to keep pledge on school testing

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson may have signaled his intent to reduce the testing load for North Carolina public school students, but education officials, past and present, say the new superintendent is going to need some help from state and local policymakers to achieve his goals.

The Winston-Salem Republican—who has not responded to multiple Policy Watch overtures for an interview since his upset victory in November—campaigned on the promise to reduce “over-testing” in North Carolina schools, a promise he said former state Superintendent June Atkinson failed to deliver on during her 13-year tenure in the state’s top education post.

It comes after more than a decade of multiplying examinations in U.S. schools following 2001’s No Child Left Behind, the federal education law passed at the peak of the public school accountability movement. [Read more…]

***Bonus reads in Education News:

5. NC DEQ Secretary Regan: “I want to create an open and inclusive agency”

Michael Regan hugs trees.

But the presumptive secretary for the Department of Environmental Quality also shakes hands with business executives, who commonly chafe at the regulations that keep those trees standing.

“There’s nothing wrong with hugging a tree,” Regan told a crowd of 150 North Carolina Chamber members on Tuesday. “But protecting the environment and a having a strong business community are not mutually exclusive.”

The two previous –and unpopular — DEQ secretaries, John Skvarla and Donald van der Vaart, made similar comments when they began their respective reigns. What sets Regan apart is his experience with the Environmental Defense Fund. EDF is no Greenpeace; it’s known as a mainstream group that forges partnerships with major corporations: McDonald’s, Smithfield, Duke Energy and Walmart. Yet Regan’s embrace of clean energy, energy efficiency and environmental justice breaks from the business über alles approach of the last four years.[Read more…]

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