Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

NC Twittersphere responds to U.S. Supreme Court ruling re: special master

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a split order Tuesday evening: Some of a court-appointed special master’s legislative districts can be used in this year’s elections and some can’t, at least temporarily.

Voters, elected officials and experts took to social media right away to express their reactions. Here are a few of the highlights:

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, Education, News

Today: NC Supreme Court to hear Board of Education, Superintendent power struggle

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear a dispute today between the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Mark Johnson.

The Board sued Mark Johnson after the legislature transferred its power to the newly-elected Republican. Arguments today will center on the constitutionality of that measure, House Bill 17.

Even though Johnson prevailed in the lower court, he has not yet been able to take over in the role set out for him in HB17 because of a temporary order during litigation.

The Supreme Court will likely determine whether the Board or Johnson will be in control of the state’s public school system, it’s 1.5 million students and $10 billion budget.

The state’s high court will also hear another lawsuit from the Board over whether it has to submit its rules to a panel for review. Argument in that case begins at 9:30 a.m. Argument in the dispute between the Board and Johnson are set to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

US Supreme Court: Some special master districts stand, some stayed

The U.S. Supreme Court will allow some of a special master’s legislative districts to stand for this year’s elections but blocked some pending lawmakers’ appeal.

The case is North Carolina v. Covington, which involves racial gerrymandering. The following House districts in Wake and Mecklenburg counties were blocked: 36, 37, 40, 41 and 105.

Those districts were challenged by plaintiffs in the case based on state constitutional claims — a ban on mid-decade redistricting.

Lawmakers argued that the lower federal court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the state law claims.

The high court’s order did not specify why justices decided to grant the stay in part and deny it in part.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have granted lawmakers’ entire stay request, according to the order. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the entire stay request.

This ruling means that the legislative maps used in this year’s elections will be party drawn by the legislature and partly drawn by the court-appointed special master, Stanford Law Professor Nathaniel Persily.

It also means that there will be more litigation over the districts the Supreme Court stayed.

The candidate filing period for legislative races opens Monday and runs through the end of the month.

 

Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Supreme Court will not expedite NC partisan gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court will not expedite North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case, which means voters will likely participate in the upcoming election under the map that a federal court ruled unconstitutional.

The high court already granted lawmakers’ request to block the lower court’s order forcing them to redraw the congressional map before this year’s election. Common Cause, one of the plaintiffs in the two combined lawsuits over the map, subsequently asked justices to fast track the case.

They denied the request Tuesday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have granted the request.

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on a separate request from lawmakers to block a special master’s plan for legislative districts from going into effect for this year’s elections. The candidate filing period opens Monday.

Defending Democracy, News

Voters weigh in on ballot box access, democracy

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently came to Raleigh to discuss voter access.

Several people attended and spoke during the public comment period at the day-long event. NC Policy Watched asked a few folks they thought voter access meant to a democracy.

“It seems to me like it’s a very basic right – one person, one vote. There’s no other way in the world to have a voice in a big system that’s a lot of bureaucracies, a lot of cultural norms. Through that vote, I hope I can go say, and I hope others can go say what they believe is important to them and their families and their communities.” – Dana Courtney, 77, Alamance County

“Every human being that is living, breathing, has the opportunity to vote for people who can advocate for them in their situation.” – John P. Comer, 36, lives in Baltimore but raised in Raleigh

“As is right now, voter access is not very accessible, at least not to minorities and people of color, definitely not to disenfranchised people. We need a better process. This country has so many technological advances and so many people who are smart, there has to be a better way that they can include everyone.” – Karla Austin, 37, Fayatteville

“It means that every single American citizen has equitable access to the ballot box, and that access can never be taken away. It means that the right to vote is a permanent right acquired upon citizenship. For me it really is about equity, it’s about making sure that if you have the right to vote, you should always have the right to vote regardless of your circumstance, regardless of your choices.” – Heather Ahn-Redding, 39, Orange County

“Make it easy. Don’t make it harder. We just need more access, not less. That’s what it means to me.” – O’Linda McSurely, 63, Carthage

“Voter access would be the cornerstone of what it means to have a true and authentic democracy. It still debases democracy or the idea of democracy if people have to resort to extraordinary efforts just to exercise a fundamental right.” – Kevin Myles, 48, Atlanta, NAACP Southeast Regional Director, which includes North Carolina