Commentary

New report offers damning assessment of Trump judicial picks

Brett Kavanaugh

Thomas Farr

A new report from the national NAACP offers a damning assessment of numerous Donald Trump federal court nominees and the president’s strategy to alter the judiciary. Among the nominations featured is the ultimately failed one of North Carolina’s Thomas Farr — the controversial conservative lawyer who has spent this week defending the state’s gerrymandered legislative maps in the ongoing Common Cause v. Lewis trial. Interestingly, Farr is the only one of the nominees highlighted whose nomination was defeated.

As the group noted in a release accompanying the report:

In 2 ½ years, President Donald Trump has appointed an alarming number of nominees with appalling records of enabling or defending voter suppression,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO.” This is no accident, and the pattern is devastating. Undermining voting rights is now a qualification for nomination to the federal bench. This administration is weaponizing the federal judiciary to restrict the vote.

Our courts are essential to ensuring full political participation for everyone under the Constitution and civil rights laws. The American people deserve judges who are impartial, fair, and committed to equal justice under law. It is time to stand up to this extraordinary perversion of the judicial appointment process to undermine our democracy. Our rights to fully participate in the political process lie in the balance.”

This is from the introduction to “Trump’s Judicial Playbook: Weaponizing the Bench to suppress the vote”:

The NAACP seeks to shine a light on the Trump administration’s strategy to weaponize the judiciary to restrict the vote. Enabled by the Senate’s short-circuited confirmation process that minimizes scrutiny of nominees, Trump has appointed 126 individuals to the federal bench. Judges with demonstrated hostility to voting rights are now populating courts at every level, from Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, to the appellate courts which decide most of our law, to the district courts where voting rights cases are first filed. Several nominees were appointed to Southern jurisdictions, which serve large communities of color and hear an outsized share of voting rights cases. Many of the nominees are very young and will serve for decades.

This is no accident. Read more

Commentary

Lawmaker unwittingly sums up the insanity of NC marijuana/hemp laws in a single quote

Rep. Jimmy Dixon

In case you missed it this morning, be sure to check out the WRAL news story about yesterday’s state House committee action on the issue of smokable hemp. As you’ve probably heard, the issue of hemp cultivation and sale has sparked controversy because the plant is essentially indistinguishable from marijuana, which unlike hemp, contains THC — the chemical that produces the marijuana “high.”

On Wednesday, a state House committee voted to continue to allow the cultivation and development of hemp products, except for smokable hemp. As WRAL reported in its Wednesday roundup:

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, is adamant that smokable hemp, which looks and smells like marijuana but lacks the THC potency to get anyone high, needs to be banned in North Carolina, or else marijuana prosecutions will be next to impossible to pursue. So, he has inserted the ban into the annual Farm Act, and he also rewrote a Senate bill on controlled substances to define smokable hemp as marijuana. Both bills cleared committees Wednesday.

Here’s the truly amazing part of the first story though:

Law enforcement isn’t just worried about it being harder to enforce marijuana laws but about losing probable cause for searches based on the smell of marijuana smoke, or when a drug dog keys in on a vehicle.

“If this bill passes without the ban, we will put 800 of our law enforcement dogs and their handlers out of business,” Dixon said.

Did you get that? The reason Dixon and company want to keep smokable hemp and marijuana illegal is to protect law enforcement jobs and to continue to provide an excuse for police searches!

To which, all a body can say in response is: Hello! Those are not legitimate reasons for something to be illegal and for government to be imprisoning people. Marijuana is already effectively legal for the majority of Americans — a reality supported by nearly two-thirds of the population.

The bottom line: It’s absurd that North Carolina continues to criminalize this substance, doubly absurd that we would extend the prohibition to smokable hemp and triply absurd that the rationale behind the policy would be based on something as irrelevant as its impact on law enforcement or the ability of law enforcement officers to investigate other offenses. As one observer noted yesterday, if they’re really so concerned about law enforcement jobs, Dixon and his allies would do well to redirect their time and energy toward retraining the dogs and their trainers to sniff out white collar crime.

Commentary, Trump Administration

As Trump arrives in Greenville, analysts highlight administration’s “broken promises” in NC

As the controversy surrounding his recent racist statements continues to roil around him, President Trump will be speaking in Greenville this evening. In anticipation of Trump’s arrival, analysts at the Center for American Progress have produced a new and powerful North Carolina-specific update to the group’s “Trump’s Broken Promises” website.

Among the findings:

PROFITS AND WAGES

Promise: “I will [be] the greatest jobs President that God ever created … our poorer citizens will get new jobs and higher pay and new hope for their life.” – Donald Trump, October 5, 2016

Reality: 

  • This week, the president threatened to veto the House’s effort to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years.
    • Currently, a student working full time at a minimum wage job would have to devote their entire salary for two years to pay for a four-year degree at East Carolina University; in-state tuition for four years costs more than $28,000, not counting books and room and board.
  • Experts predict that close to 13,000 North Carolina jobs will be lost as a result of President Trump’s erratic steel and aluminum trade policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


HEALTH CARE

Promise: “I’m asking for your vote so we can repeal and replace Obamacare, and save health care for every family in North Carolina.” – Donald Trump in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 7, 2016

Reality: Trump is trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the courts with no replacement:

  • 3.9 million North Carolinians with pre-existing conditions will lose protections under ACA repeal.
  • 503,000 North Carolinians will lose their health coverage under ACA repeal.
  • $4,550: Annual premium increase for the average North Carolina family.
  • Trump launched an all-out attack on our health care by trying to repeal and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. https://trumpsbrokenpromises.org/north-carolina/#healthcare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TAXES

Promise: “[W]e will massively cut taxes for the middle class.” – Donald Trump in Wilmington, North Carolina, November 5, 2016

Reality: 83 percent of the benefits from President Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut go to corporations and the top 1 percent. Many North Carolina families are getting stuck with the bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see the full report.

Commentary

Senator Tillis needs to stop spinning on immigration crisis and listen to this horrific story

Sen. Thom Tillis

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis went on Fox News over the weekend to put a warm and fuzzy spin on the crisis at the border. Click here to watch the Senator talk about all the happy, smiling faces he and Vice President Pence saw during a tour on Friday and how, while one of the facilities is “overcrowded,” it’s nothing that a little extra appropriation from Congress won’t take care of.

To which all a body can say in response is: Really Senator? Did you really think the people running these facilities were going to show a high-powered delegation from Washington anything else?

And, more to the point, is that going to be the extent of your ‘investigation’? If it is, you’re clearly missing the truth of what’s really going on in the name of American taxpayers.

Take, for instance, this horrific story by reporters Noel King and Bob Moore that was broadcast this morning on NPR in which a three-year old child with serious heart condition  — A THREE-YEAR OLD CHILD — was asked by a U.S. Border Patrol agent to determine which of her parents would be allowed to stay in the U.S. with her and who should be sent back to Mexico.

The child, in a piece of poignant and stomach-turning irony that reminds us of William Styron’s famous novel, is named Sophie. How Senator Tillis or any other functioning human being with a heart and mind could ever listen to this story and think that there isn’t something desperately, desperately wrong with U.S. immigration policy is simply unimaginable.

Commentary, Education, News

NC voucher program should follow Maryland’s lead, end funding to schools that discriminate

The Baltimore Sun reports this morning that a religious school, with the aid of a right-wing legal organization, is suing the state of Maryland over the decision of education officials to deny it school voucher funding because of its discriminatory policies. Oh, that North Carolina leaders had the courage to adopt and implement a similar policy.

As the Sun reports:

Maryland’s education leaders decided to deny vouchers to Bethel Christian Academy in 2018 after it read the school’s handbook, which says that it believes marriage can only be between a man and a woman and that God assigns a gender to a child at birth.

“Therefore, faculty, staff and student conduct is expected to align with this view,” the handbook states. “Faculty, staff and students are required to identify with, dress in accordance with, and use the facilities associated with their biological gender.”…

Maryland’s voucher program, begun in the 2016-2017 school year under Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, offers students a taxpayer-funded scholarship to attend a private school. Called Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students, or BOOST, the program’s $7 million budget is enough to support more than 3,000 students. The scholarships go to low-income students who want to attend a school where the tuition is less than $14,000.

After the first year of the program, the BOOST board learned that a Harford County religious school had what it called discriminatory language in its handbook and banned the use of vouchers there. It also launched a complete review of the handbooks of all 176 participating schools. The board said 22 schools had questionable language in their guides. Nine of those schools were ruled ineligible. Another 10 schools were disqualified and required to refund payments they had already received from the state. Of those 10 schools, six revised the language in their handbook and were approved to participate.

Some Christian academies said they would not accept students who were homosexual and would expel them if they exhibited “homosexual conduct.” The schools say they believe marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

After it rescinded Bethel’s approval, the BOOST board told Bethel to pay back the $106,000 in state funds it had received. In the lawsuit, Bethel asks the court to both reinstate the school in the voucher program and not require it to pay back the money.

The story goes on to explain the legal theories of the competing parties and the fact that the very existence of a voucher program remains highly controversial.

Let’s hope the defendants prevail, that the policy to deny vouchers to schools that discriminate remains in place and that North Carolina officials follow Maryland’s lead in the near future.