Commentary, Defending Democracy

Scathing editorial blasts today’s special session, GOP lawmakers and their constitutional amendments

Rep. David Lewis

This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer pulls no punches in blasting today’s special legislative session as well as the constitutional amendments set for the November ballot that legislative leaders hope to further camouflage. As the N&O correctly notes,  the GOP plan to seize the power to draft the actual ballot language from a bipartisan panel is laughably transparent:

“In a laughable cover for his call for a special session, [Rep. David] Lewis wrote that it’s needed to keep his party’s politically motivated amendments from being politicized. ‘It appears that the Commission may be falling to outside political pressure, contemplating politicizing the title crafting process, including using long sentences or negative language in order to hurt the amendments’ chances of passing,’ he wrote.

[House Speaker Tim] Moore took all of a day to agree. Now the legislative leaders will eliminate one of the elements built into the amendment process and start trying to carve language into the state’s historic code of governance like it’s the Republican Party platform.”

But, as the editorial goes on to note, the process and the amendments stunk long before this week:

“Should all or some of the amendments pass, legislators would return for a lame-duck session to fill in the details of the amendments. So voters wouldn’t know the specifics of what they were voting on; lawmakers would figure that out later, after the Nov. 6 vote.

It’s difficult to determine if the legislative leaders who put six constitutional amendments on the fall ballot are devious, incompetent or both.

The hallmark of this Republican-led legislature is that its actions are both heavy handed and ham handed. Legislative leaders are not only shameless about bending the law to partisan purposes, but often incompetent in doing so. Republicans have spent millions of public dollars defending these laws, often unsuccessfully, from challenges to their constitutionality.

Much of this flawed legislation could be avoided if the leadership would simply follow the democratic process. Jamming bills through with little notice, scant public hearings and no consultation with Democrats or groups affected by the legislation leads to laws that lack public support and are legally vulnerable.

That’s the process that put this jumble of amendments on the fall ballot. Voters would do well to reject the undemocratic and slipshod process that emphasizes hyper-partisan politics and changes the rules when they get in the way. That rejection should extend to the amendments this process put on the ballot.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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