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Conservative Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly  took things to a new level of of Machiavellian, ends-justify-the-means, no-holds-barred nastiness early this morning. After failing to muster the votes to override the Governor’s veto of the Racial Justice Act repeal, they “adjourned” the special session and then called another one at 1:00 a.m. to override another veto — this one of a bill that would prevent the North Carolina Association of Educators from collecting dues from members via payroll deduction.

Perdue and the NCAE both questioned the constitutionality of the action. Whether or not they are right, however, it’s clear that the action was underhanded and slimy and but the latest in a long series of acts that continue to take the state down a very dangerous path.

I’ve complained in this space before that the conservative economic vision is to turn our country into a banana republic on steroids.  It now appears that they have the same vision for the mechanisms of government itself as well.

(The is post has been updated. The original blamed just the House Republicans for this morning’s treachery. Obviously, the Senate was fully complicit as well. The headline and first sentence now reflect this fact).  

Legislators reconvene on Wednesday to reconsider the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 9, which would have repealed much of the Racial Justice Act.

The question is whether the Republican leadership could also use the special session to revisit the “veto garage” and take up any other issues left pending in 2011.

Bob Phillips of Common Cause NC is wary Republicans may make at least one more push on voter ID before the 2012 elections, which could make a difference in our tight battleground state.

Phillips says despite opinion polls that have shown support for some form of voter identification, such a law would adversely affect almost half a million active registered voters in North Carolina.

Phillips joined us recently on News and Views to reflect on efforts to suppress voting in 2011 and what lies ahead for the New Year.

To hear a portion of Phillips’ radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below. To listen to the full interview – including our look back at the newsmakers of 2011 – visit the Radio Interview section of the N.C. Policy Watch website. There you can listen to the entire show online or subscribe to our podcast feed on iTunes.

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NPR had a national story this morning that comports with the situation here in North Carolina entitled “Death sentences drop to historic lows in 2011.”

Of course, given this reality, we should have seen a big bump in homicides in light the death penalty’s big “deterrent effect.”

Right??

Uh, not so fast my friend.

It turns out the murder rate in the United States has been dropping right along with the use of the death penalty and is now lower than at any time since the early 1960′s. It’s about half the rate it was less than 20 years ago when the death machine was going full tilt.

 

When it comes to the rights of North Carolina prison inmates, few if anyone knows more than the lawyers at North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services. Today’s the group’s executive director, Mary Pollard, sent a letter to Governor Perdue debunking the notion promoted by some prosecutors that some inmates who had their death sentences overturned by the application of the Racial Justice Act could somehow end up out on the street (the Act mandates that the sentences of such individuals be converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole).

According to Pollard:

“The possibility that a death row inmate might become parole-eligible as a result of the Racial Justice Act  should not be of concern to you as you make your decision on whether to veto the legislative repeal of the Act.”

Click here to read Pollard’s letter.