Commentary, Defending Democracy

Memo to General Assembly leaders: Please, just stop. Enough is enough.

Memo

To: Senator Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore

Re: NC’s ongoing constitutional crisis

There are news reports this morning that you are now seriously considering convening yet another hastily-called special session of the General Assembly. The apparent purpose: to take another last-minute stab at rewriting legislation regarding the deceptive and deceitful constitutional amendments that you had hoped to place on the November ballot. This latest move comes in the aftermath of a ruling by a special three-judge panel earlier this week that at least two of the amendments are so blatantly dishonest that they must not be allowed to appear on the ballot.

Gentlemen, this is next to madness. The process by which the General Assembly acted in the waning days of the 2018 legislative session to pass all six amendments was itself outrageously truncated and inadequate. Indeed, that reality is one of the main reasons that the state now finds itself in the midst of a constitutional crisis. To hold yet another kangaroo legislative session of the kind that gave us the infamous HB2 a few years back in order to rewrite proposed constitutional amendments (and/or the language that will appear on the ballot) in some kind of harried, last-minute fashion without the kind of expert analysis and public input that any such momentous changes should receive, is simply and irretrievably beyond the pale.

The bottom line: If the ideas that y’all are championing are so powerful and obvious and so likely to benefit the state going forward, then there will be plenty of time to advance them in 2019 or 2020. None of the matters dealt with in any of the six amendments are going to go away anytime soon. If you really believe in the merit of your positions, have the courage to go out and wage the kind of honest and open campaign that would give these momentous issues the kind of full airing they deserve. Take your campaigns on the road. Debate those with different positions and let the citizens of North Carolina really get a chance to fully grasp and appreciate the nature of the changes you propose.

But until you’re able to do that, at least have the basic decency to spare your fellow citizens from this dangerous and divisive fight. Please, gentlemen: just stop. Enough is enough.

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