Bi-Sexual Wake County English Teacher Pushes Diversity and Privilege in her Classroom by Forcing Students to Expose Private and Sensitive Information about Themselves and Others in their Lives

Diversity Inventory (Full sheet)

by Diane Rufino, October 21, 2019

On their second day at school at Heritage High School in Wake County, students in Ms. Wilson’s 10th grade English class were handed a worksheet titled “Diversity Inventory,” and told to complete it. That worksheet asked each student such questions as: who their friends and doctors are, who their teachers were, who are the members of their family, and who their neighbors are. These questions may seem a bit intrusive, but so far, they don’t raise any red flags. But then the worksheet asks the student to answer the following questions about each of those individuals: their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic status.

Why does an English teacher need to pry into her students’ lives and why does she need this information? And even more troubling, did she plan to force each student to share that private information with other students?

Apparently, according to the teacher, it was a checklist to help this teacher literally map out how to force more social justice ‘diversity’ lessons (ie, indoctrination) into her students’ lives. As if that isn’t highly offensive enough, the questionnaire worksheet has no nexus to her teaching of English. It has no relevance and should have no relevance. How does it impact her OBLIGATION to teach students about English literature, plots, and themes.

Needless to say, some students were offended and confused by the assignment. When some kids showed hesitation about answering, Ms. Wilson responded: “Hey, it’s OK because I used to be a Catholic and now I’m an atheist and I’m bi-sexual.”

When has it become acceptable for a teacher to share the details of her sex life?   And what possible relevance is it from an English teacher in an English class?

One parent, Dina Bartus, contacted the school’s principal to demand that her son be removed from the class. The principal did not respond, so she emailed him a second time. Only then did she hear back from him. As she explained: “It’s hard enough going to high school without having your teacher call you out and lump you into a category — and not a category like ‘do you like football or baseball?’ A category of, ‘who do you want to have sex with?’ She told the principal that the teachers’ worksheet, and the questions it asked, was it was unacceptable.

On Facebook, Bartus posted her disgust: “Now it gets better…. not only does she ask these questions, but she asks them stand under posters around the room representing the categories of questions she asks. For example: What makes you the most privileged? Needless to say there was an email sent. And it is only the second damn day of school.”

Luckily, and to the principal’s credit, as soon as Mrs. Bartus complained, he immediately reviewed the assignment and directed the teacher to discontinue it. The Wake County School System followed up by issuing a statement, which read: “While we value efforts to build a classroom community that is inclusive and respectful of all students and backgrounds, the Wake County Public School System also respects and values student privacy and their right to engage in discussion about personal identity when they are comfortable to do so.”

The response was dead on.

For those who believe the public school system has become the vehicle not of true education but of indoctrination by government and of social change, consider this reality. Wake County Public Schools created the Office of Equity Affairs (OEA) a few years ago to help guide the mission of Wake County’s public schools. A presentation by the OEA (accessible here: https://www.scribd.com/document/415005224/2019-06-05-NCSBE-06052019-WCPSS-OEA-Overview-v2) made clear that educators “will be the instruments for the infusion of raced-based and social justice training into schools and classrooms.” The presentation further states, and clearly so, that “Educators will work to socialize intelligence and effort among all students in every school, every classroom, every day…. Leaders will model and advance courageous conversations about special education status, family income, and race, and how these attributes shape teaching and learning experiences in schools and classrooms.”

Even more offensively, Wake County has promoted “professional development” training modules, which have been prepared by and are available on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website – under “Social Justice Standards.” The OEA has actively promoted the use of these “standards” in the classroom, directly frustrating parents’ legitimate expectations of teachers and of rightful expectations related to the rightful role of the public school (to educate and not to indoctrinate).

 

****  The clarifier “Bi-Sexual” was included in the title not to indicate any discrimination or mal intent against such individuals but only to suggest that someone who benefits so greatly from a very progressive social agenda (as the left and as the Southern Poverty Law Center pushes) may have had a reason for pushing the “Diversity Inventory” assignment and pushing a social agenda in her classroom – a classroom historically devoted to reading, analyzing, and appreciating outstanding works of English literature, studying plots and characters, looking for themes, tying the work into the time period, etc and NOT devoted to social change and government indoctrination.

Reference:  Thanks to Lady Liberty (A.P. Dillon) for addressing the Office of Equity Affairs (OEA) in her article “Diversity Inventory Worksheet Given to Heritage High Students Yanked After Parents’ Pushback,” August 29, 2019.   Referenced at: https://ladyliberty1885.com/2019/08/29/diversity-inventory-worksheet-given-to-heritage-high-students-yanked-after-parents-push-back/

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SUPREME COURT WATCH: The Supreme Court Hears its Second Challenge to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Does it Protect Transgenders?)

SUPREME COURT - building (Newsmax)

by Diane Rufino, October 10, 2019

The Supreme Court just began its 2019-2020 term on Monday, October 7. The following day, on Oct. 8, the justices heard oral arguments in two potential landmark cases, both challenges to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The cases are Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (Consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda) and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the first case, the plaintiff asks the Supreme Court to include sexual orientation (LBGT) within the meaning of “sex” in Title VII for protection against discrimination. Bostock is a gay man. In the second case, which is the focus of this article, the plaintiff asks the Court to include transgender individuals for protection within the meaning of “sex” in Title VII.

The questions, of course, will be whether the provision was written to include such individuals and if not, whether or not the federal court has the proper authority to enlarge the meaning of Title VII to include them going forward.

The facts of the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v EEOC case are as follows: The plaintiff (the challenger), Aimee Stephens, considered herself a transgender woman for most of her adult life but presented herself as a male, which he said caused him constant emotional stress. In 2013, he decided to come out to family and friends, and arranged to undergo reassignment surgery within the next year, and began to implement lifestyle changes consistent with his ultimate transition. At that time, he had been an employee of R.G. &. G.R. Harris Funeral Homes for six years and had a excellent work record. He wrote to his supervisor, explaining that he was taking a vacation and explaining his plans to transition to a female. He also notified the supervisor that when he returned to work, he would be wearing attire appropriate for a female employee. Note, when he returned, he would still be a biological male. He would not have had the surgery by that point. Two weeks later, Stephens was notified by mail that he had been terminated by the funeral home’s owner Thomas Rost. Stephens then filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), believing he was discriminated against on account of him being a transgender. He alleged that the provision in Title VII which protects a person from discrimination on account of ‘sex’ [“It shall be unlawful to discharge an individual because of that person’s sex…” (paraphrasing)] includes transgender individuals.

Title VII reads:

(a) Employer Practices. It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This case, therefore, will determine (or may determine) whether discrimination on the basis of gender identity is covered by the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC surprisingly agreed with Stephens’ position and took the case against the funeral home to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. In 2016, the court found for the funeral home on two bases: (1) First, it held that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act neither encompassed transgender persons nor gender identity individuals (neither were considered protected classes, or even considered at all), and (2) Second, it held because Rost was a devout Christian who does not accept that one can change one’s gender and who ran the funeral home under his religion, he was protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The EEOC appealed to the Sixth Circuit, and in March 2018, it reversed the decision, ruling that Title’s VII “discrimination by sex” does include transgender persons. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) took the funeral home’s case and appealed to the Supreme Court for review. The Court accepted the case.

MY OPINION is that the Supreme Court should NOT decide this case. The Court should respect the language and intent of the legislature (Congress) when it passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Sexual orientation and gender identity were not included in the provision; those categories of individuals were not legislatively given protected status in the Act. It is NOT the role of the federal courts (or any court system) to make law from the bench or to enlarge the meaning of laws from the bench. That would be judicial activism. The proper recourse is for the Supreme Court to acknowledge that transgenders (gender identity individuals) and sexual orientation individuals present a new situation with respect to discrimination and then leave it to Congress to either amend Title VII to include them or to decline to include them as protected classes. But the rightful branch to address this issue is Congress, and the Supreme Court must respect that and not usurp that responsibility by reinterpreting the law and enlarging its meaning judicially.

NC VALUES founder, president, and spokeswoman, Tami Fitzgerald was at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 8 for the oral arguments. She delivered a speech on the steps of the imposing building, urging her view and the view of NC Values regarding Title VII. The transcript of her remarks is provided below. Her remarks are well worth the read:

“We are here today to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to restore sanity and the rule of law. Americans should be able to rely on what the law says. Yet, in these three cases, the lower courts have effectively redefined the word “sex” in federal law to include “gender identity,” creating unfair situations for women and girls, and punishing businesses like Harris Funeral Homes for relying on what the law says. Redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” creates chaos and is unfair to women and girls.

Title VII was enacted to ensure that men and women have equal employment opportunities. It was not designed to be a radical social engineering project that shoehorns sexual liberties into federal law. Yet some lower courts, including the Sixth and Second Circuits, jump from stereotypical ideas about the roles of men and women to conclusions that render heterosexuality—and even the very idea of biological sex—illicit stereotypes.

The cases at issue here, have ripped the stereotyping terminology from the pages of the Supreme Court’s earlier decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins and commandeered it for purposes far removed from Title VII’s objectives. The result is a sweeping redefinition of biological reality that injects sexual orientation and/or gender identity into the meaning of the word “sex.”

Title VII’s relevant protected characteristic is “sex,” which in 1964 and still today means biological sex. Plaintiffs now demand protection for sexual orientation (Zarda, Bostock) and gender identity (Harris)—which are both radically different categories.

The Sixth Circuit substitutes gender identity for sex in Title VII, rewriting the statutory text and redefining the reality of plaintiff’s sex.

Gender identity theory cements stereotypes in stone rather than eradicating them from the law. It reduces what it means to be male or female to a collection of stereotypes that many people—especially women—have spent many years trying to overcome and that many people reject.

The word “sex” in Title VII is an objective term determined by reproductive anatomy. Sexual orientation is subjectively determined by individual’s preference in sexual partners. Gender identity is subjectively determined by a person’s internal sense of being male or female. These subjective categories represent a radical departure from the text of Title VII and the underpinnings of previous case law.

The Sixth Circuit was wrong when it precluded an interpretation of Title VII that reads “sex” to mean only individuals’ chromosomally driven physiology and reproductive function. That is precisely the definition of “sex” in Title VII and many other laws. The circuit courts attempt to redefine reality and infuse the federal law with meanings that are simply not there.

Laws cannot be enforced or rightly interpreted if word definitions can be shifted at will to mean whatever someone wants them to mean.

Blurring the binary concept of male and female detracts from the fundamental purpose of both Title VII and Price Waterhouse—to ensure that male and female employees have equal employment opportunities.

Male and female are both human beings, but they are not interchangeable in every respect. When the line is blurred, there is no assurance that women will have equal opportunities vis-à-vis men.

Redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” creates unfair situations for women and girls.

Title VII and other civil rights laws are in place to protect equal opportunities for women; changing “sex” to mean gender identity undermines nearly 50 years of advances for women.

(1)  It undermines equal opportunities for women. Men identifying as female will take women’s places on athletics teams and on the award podium. Just this fall, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association changed its rules regarding participation, so that transgender athletes can now compete according to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex. The Court’s decision in these cases will impact whether female athletes in North Carolina have to continue under this oppressive rule or can return to a fair playing field, where biology determines which team on which boys can compete—not feelings.

(2)  It jeopardizes bodily privacy rights of women by forcing organizations to open women’s shelters, locker rooms, restrooms, and showers to men who say they are women. For example, the Obama Justice Department attempted to force schools and government buildings in North Carolina to allow men who say they are women into women’s bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. Women should be able to expect privacy and safety in such facilities.

Redefining “sex” to mean “gender identity” causes big problems.

(1) It puts employers in unfair situations. Employers must treat men who believe themselves to be women as if they are women, unless those employees don’t “meet the expectations” of what women “typically” look like. This is an impossible standard and forces employers to engage in the very stereotypes the law is supposed to condemn.

(2) It sacrifices freedom of conscience.

(3) It forces doctors to participate in—or employers to pay for—providing hormone blockers or surgical efforts to alter sex in violation of religious beliefs.

(4) It endangers freedom of speech.

(5) It forces business owners, employees, teachers and others to speak in violation of their conscience by compelling them to use pronouns and other sex‐specific terms according to identity rather than biology. For example, in Charlotte and Raleigh , North Carolina, teachers and guidance counselors have been told they must use gender neutral terms such as “students” rather than “he” or “she” and that they must use preferred pronouns for students who identify as the sex other than their biological sex.

So much is riding on the Court’s decision in these cases. This decision will impact public schools, employers, business owners, employees, and churches. We implore the Justices not to re-define what it means to be a woman and a man, but rather to follow the law, common sense, and the order of Creation.”

TAMI FITZGERALD - head shot (red suit)   Tami Fitzgerald

NC VALUES fights tirelessly for North Carolina families and for our North Carolina conservative values, and we owe Tami Fitzgerald and her organization a debt of gratitude. She is always on the front line. If you are looking for a worthwhile and honorable organization to donate to, please consider to donating to NC Values.

 

Reference: https://www.ncvalues.org/tami_fitzgerald_harris_funeral_homes_speech?utm_campaign=20191010_harris_followup&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ncvalues

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The Road to Impeachment: Trump Calls Pelosi’s Bluff

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY - Trump v. Pelosi (Gage Skidmore, US Coast Guard)

(Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore, US Coast Guard)

The Mueller Report concluded that there were no grounds to indict President Trump. There were no grounds related to the so-called Russian Collusion allegation or any other allegation that was included in the Special Counsel’s investigation. So what to do? What to do??

The Democrats needed another avenue to frustrate the President and to find a potential “high crime or misdemeanor” to try to impeach him. And that’s where the phone conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president came in. Democrats expected this to have great potential to blow out of proportion, as they like to do, but what they didn’t expect was for Trump to release the unredacted transcript of that conversation.

The transcript showed that Trump never engaged in any incriminating conservation and breached no unlawful or inappropriate topic with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. [Refer to this interview with Legal Analyst and best-selling author, Gregg Jarrett where he explains the Joe Biden and Hunter Biden situation regarding the Ukraine. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1180521871223246848/video/1 ]

All one needs to know about that conservation is this: President Trump has every right and full authority to ask a foreign government if there has been any corruption or illegality by officials of the United States. In the conversation, that is all Trump refers to. He did not phrase the question in terms of “quid-pro-quo” action, meaning that if the Ukrainians didn’t comply, the United States would retaliate in some way, nor did he promise something in return if the Ukraine provided evidence. That would be government coercion. Quid-pro-quo action is what Vice President Biden engaged in during the Obama years with the Ukraine.

Despite the unredacted transcript, House Democrats have had the audacity to accuse the White House of providing a transcript that doesn’t honestly reflect what the national leaders talked about. As always, they think they know better (yet at every step, they have not).

On Tuesday, September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House would launch a formal impeachment INQUIRY into President Trump. Adding to our absolute frustration with Congressional Democrats, Pelosi announced last week that the House would yet again be neglecting its actual constitutional obligation to legislate and take care of the country’s problems in order to continue to investigate President Trump. She said a number of committees have been tasked with gathering “facts” and “evidence” in order to build a case. What she didn’t announce was a VOTE on impeachment. In other words…. Democrats intend to engage in yet another fishing expedition. We can interpret this as affirming that there still is no grounds for impeachment, but maybe, if the House investigates enough, if enough people lie and leak privileged information that can be misconstrued, if every aspect of Trump’s life is examined under a microscope, there may ultimately be grounds to move forward on articles of impeachment.

How this will play out is just beginning to unfold. Here were the possibilities:

(i)  The House could find nothing and close the investigation.

(ii)  The House could investigate in perpetuity effectively tying up the legislative calendar for the remainder of the year.

(iii)  The House could move forward and hold a vote to impeach the president.

(iv)  The White House could refuse to comply to the subpoenas and other requests for information UNTIL Nancy Pelosi first holds a vote on impeachment.

Trump decided to go with option #4.

The Trump Administration is not easily tricked, it knows the evil games that Democrats play, and it has no intention of complying with their fishing expedition. The White House is taking the position that it does not have to treat the House subpoenas or other requests for information as having the force or weight of impeachment law. In other words, he cannot be forced to comply. And so, yesterday afternoon, the White House sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi calling her bluff on impeachment. The letter made it clear that it will refuse to comply with witness or document requests until a full House VOTE is taken and impeachment is officially underway, thwarting their witch hunt – the tactic used by Democrats since Trump announced he was running for the presidency. Pelosi, on the other hand, believes she does not need a vote to begin the process, as she has stated. The reality is that she is using the “inquiry” approach to avoid an actual vote in order to protect approximately a dozen Democratic House members who believe they will lose reelection if they vote to impeach President Trump.

As we are all too well aware, the effort to impeach President Trump began even before he was inaugurated on January 20. 2017. It began, on one front, with Senators Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, and others attempting to tie the president’s business ventures to a violation of existing law and elevating that violation to a “high crime or misdemeanor” under the impeachment clause of the U.S. Constitution, at the same time the FBI’s “insurance policy” was being advanced. In fact, the first articles of impeachment were drafted in 2017, just months after President Trump took office. And Democrats have been beating that tired drum ever since. Their methods are just becoming more desperate and insane.

Impeachment in the United States, as we all know, is the process by which the lower house of a legislature brings charges against a civil officer of government for crimes alleged to have been committed, analogous to the bringing of an indictment by a grand jury. At the federal level, the Constitution gives the powers of impeachment and conviction to Congress: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Each house of Congress plays a part.

The House of Representatives is the chamber tasked with bringing articles of impeachment against the president (or other official). Article I, Section 2, clause 5 reads: “The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” A president is “impeached” by the House by a simple majority vote (51%), but he still remains in office.

The next step is removal, which is at the sole discretion of the Senate. Article I, Section 3, clauses 6 provides: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”

In short, impeachment is a political process controlled by Congress, and is a tool to punish wrongdoing as defined by the constitution, not to settle policy disputes. Political hatred is not included in “high crimes and misdemeanors” and if Democrats decide to go that route, God help our country moving forward. Using this standard, political parties would be able to execute an internal government coup whenever their hatred level rises high enough.

Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy explains why Pelosi’s current impeachment gamble, which has given the Trump campaign an extra $15 million in just a few days, isn’t impeachment at all:

“The House has not voted as a body to authorize an impeachment inquiry. What we have are partisan theatrics, proceeding under the ipse dixit of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It raises the profile, but not the legitimacy, of the same “impeachment inquiry” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) previously tried to abracadabra into being without a committee vote.

Moreover, there are no subpoenas. As Secretary Pompeo observed in his fittingly tart response on Tuesday, what committee chairmen Nadler issued was merely a letter. Its huffing and puffing notwithstanding, the letter is nothing more than an informal request for voluntary cooperation. Legally, it has no compulsive power. If anything, it is rife with legal deficiencies.

The Democrats, of course, hope you don’t notice that the House is not conducting a formal impeachment inquiry. They are using the guise of frenetic activity by several standing committees — Intelligence, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and Ways and Means — whose normal oversight functions are being gussied up to look like serious impeachment business.”

Taking the position that the White House has taken (calling Pelosi’s bluff on impeachment) will likely have the following effects:

1).  Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will challenge the Trump Administration in court to compel them to comply with the impeachment inquiry (Good luck Democrats once it gets to the Supreme Court!!), and

2).  The first stage of the impeachment process will drag out over a longer period of time (making it more likely that Trump will be re-elected and Democrats will lose seats in Congress).

Regarding the first, this will cause our government to enter largely untested legal waters. Speaker Pelosi will attempt to use the legal process to threaten Administration officials to comply with her requests or risk their own legal problems, and she will threaten to add “Non-Compliance” or “Obstruction” along with her list of impeachment charges against President Trump. As hinted above, conservatives should be consoled should any constitutional questions need to be addressed by the Supreme Court.

Regarding the second, House Pelosi and Democratic Leadership have desperately tried to avoid entering into an impeachment fight because of Trump’s popularity and the public’s overall approval and support of his policy initiatives. They approve of the direction he is taking our country and they feel the positive effects of his policies. There are several House Democrats know it will be political suicide to try to impeach such a popular president.

At this initial phase of this impeachment battle, the extreme partisanship of House Democrats and their vitriolic rhetoric against the president would suggest that the House will likely proceed with filing articles of impeachment against Trump. They actually may be forced to do so by the position taken by the White House. Without compliance by the White House regarding subpoenas and requests for information, the House will have a hard time making an actual case for impeachment. The Ukrainian phone call is turning out to be another disaster for them. But, if Pelosi decides to call for a vote, if Democrats vote as a block, and if Democrats are not afraid to face their voters to explain their vote, impeachment will be successful. With a full membership of the House and having a majority, 218 Democratic “YES” votes will impeach President Trump.

What can we expect from the Senate after a House Vote?

If the House does happen to vote to impeach President Trump, the Senate would have no choice but to take up the issue of removal. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted as such. The Senate rule on impeachment requires the Senate to receive the House managers of impeachment, provide the opportunity for the managers to reveal the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor, and begin the trial no later than one o’clock in the afternoon of the following day.

Normally, the Vice President of the United States, as President of the Senate, presides over Senate business, but in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the Constitution directs “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” In the case of President Trump being impeached, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts would preside over the trial, maintaining order and ensuring Senate rules are followed.

However, while Leader McConnell is correct that the Senate must consider the articles of impeachment, there are several different possibilities for how the Senate could deal with the impeachment of the president:

(1)  The Senate could begin the trial and in short order move to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

(2)  They could also entertain a motion to send the articles and the trial to a committee of the Senate.

(3)  They can dismiss some articles (if the House makes more than one accusation against the president) and hold a trial on the other articles.

(4)  They could also have a full blown trial on the Senate floor at which President Trump’s defense attorneys would be able to present and examine evidence, to call and cross-examine witnesses, and to deliver opening and final arguments.

Once the trial takes place, the Senate would likely debate in executive (or closed) session followed by a vote in open session as to whether or not to convict Trump. In order for the president to be convicted of the accusations contained in the articles of impeachment, two-thirds of senators present and voting must vote “YES.” A conviction is required to remove the president from office. The Senate may then vote to bar the president from holding federal office again.

Impeachment is perhaps the most serious exercise that our representative government can undertake. The purpose is to remove an unfit president from continuing in office where his seriously flawed judgement and dishonest intuition will have the chance to prejudice the country. It recognizes the fundamental code in our country that no one is above the law, including the President of the United States. The cavalier manner in which Speaker Pelosi is beginning this process exposes the worst kind of partisan politics. She has been mentally, emotionally, and psychologically compromised by her hatred of President Trump. Her hatred and her absolute desire to rally the Democratic Party behind an effort to unseat the man that is doing to most to hurt her party has her hijacking the power of her office and her position for purposes not allowed by the Constitution, nor contemplated by it. Again, political hatred does not come under the purview of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is the historic and constitutional threshold for impeachment. Presidents Nixon and Clinton faced an impeachment inquiry only after a vote by the House. Speaker Pelosi is buckling under the pressure of left-wing activists to impeach President Trump while violating the proper process to do so in order to protect Democratic members who may lose re-election if they vote on impeachment.

If you listen to the mainstream news or do a google search (which of course, will take you to a progressive/liberal site rather than any conservative ones), you will hear crazy talk like “Polls show more Americans are in favor of impeachment” and “More compelling evidence against President Trump.” None of these stories is true. The truth is that Democrats are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome which is causing them to ignore the Constitution, to ignore the will of the people at the ballot box in 2016, and to ignore proper codes of conduct and to persecute and harass the President every chance they get (or to manufacture a reason to do so).

I wish the Supreme Court would issue a “cease and desist” order to House Democrats, instructing them to stop harassing President Trump and ordering them BACK TO WORK !!

All the facts in this impeachment reveal a purely partisan attempt to overturn the will of the American people and to remove from office a man who won a historic victory at the ballot box. The victory was not simply to put him in office but it was a message rejecting Hillary Clinton and the Democratic pollical machine. The incessant investigations, allegations, and calls for impeachment are merely illegitimate attempts (ie, a coup) to overturn the election of President Trump in 2016.

But the American people are not without a role in the righteousness of the impeachment or the injustice of the impeachment. The American people have the opportunity to weigh in at the ballot box regarding their views of the impeachment. If the impeachment was clearly justified, the party responsible for bringing the articles of impeachment and for removing the dishonorable president will be rewarded with more seats in Congress. On the other hand, if a particular political party misused or abused its impeachment power, that party will suffer at election time. For example, after impeaching President Clinton, congressional Republicans faced backlash and lost seats in the subsequent election. The overwhelming majority of Americans had no idea of the actual legal basis for his impeachment (for he committed an actual crime by knowingly lying under oath as a defendant in a lawsuit) but just knew that he was a popular president who seemed to be impeached for his inability to keep his little willie in his pants.

It will be up to us, and those of us who appreciate Donald Trump and who are sickened by the actions of the Democratic Party, to push back against this evil myoptic political party and to make sure their numbers and their voice in government is minimized. We must make it abundantly clear that it is NOT acceptable to ignore one’s constitutional obligations and oath to office and instead to co-opt the powers of the federal government for the singular purpose of advancing the interests and power of a political party.

 

 

Reference:

“Oppose Impeachment,” Heritage Action. Referenced at: https://heritageaction.com/toolkit/oppose-impeachment?utm_source=heritageaction&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_10-05-2019&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWVRneFl6bGtaR1ptTW1ObCIsInQiOiJFYzNUM1wvODhGeHJ2N2NpeGFZaTFmVTRYWFFyUWhBQ0FGVjNkOFFtVDVweTFDa3ZQQm1hK25rS1wvcTZOWnVZU0RsM3o0SFM5K2VIeVI2bXRnYmtBR05yVGVFVktUR2NEQWVSdGx0NStcL3cyQjVrZ1J3cTlJdGZzWnBQTVwvSE1tR2YifQ%3D%3D

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The Second Amendment and Red Flag Laws: Understand Your Rights and Learn the Truth

RED FLAG LAWS - I want YOU to prevent gun violence

by Diane Rufino, October 1, 2019

My professor at law school, Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News Senior Legal Analyst, wrote an excellent article on Red Flag Laws.

Not only is this article spot on regarding the issues (unconstitutionality) of Red Flag laws, but it is a brilliant overview of our founding and of the original intent and understanding of our Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms. The history included in Judge Napolitano’s article is a history that our children will never be exposed to in the public school system. Our government will never allow students to be taught that they have an inherent right to be armed against government should it turn despotic and tyrannical (which almost all governments, at some point, become).

St. George Tucker, one of our country’s most influential legal scholars and an expert on the US Constitution (as ratified), wrote the following in his View of the Constitution of the United States (1803) regarding the right to arms addressed in the Second Amendment:

“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorize the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.”

Tucker’s View of the Constitution was the first extended, systematic commentary on the Constitution after it had been ratified by the people of the several states and amended by the Bill of Rights. And his Blackstone’s Commentaries, With Notes of Reference to the Constitution (1803), from which the following excerpt originates, was the major treatise on American law in the early 19th century. Lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States would frequently cite to Tucker’s Blackstone’s Commentaries more often than any other commentator until 1827.

The information in Judge Napolitano’s article is information that I did not learn in my years at Seton Hall Law School (which was recently renamed “Seton Hall School of Social Justice”). The reason is that the Second Amendment had not been interpreted and analyzed honestly by the Supreme Court when I was a student there. For all of our country’s history, the Second Amendment was assumed by ordinary citizens to include the individual right to self-defense while it was assumed by government to only include the right to firearms when men formed into a militia. This difference of viewpoints highlights exactly the difference between Free Individuals and Government. It highlights the difference between the views and intent of Free Individuals versus the views and intent of government. Individuals want their rights secure; and especially from the reaches of government (as the Bill of Rights was intended to ensure). They are protective and defensive of their rights. Government, on the other hand, wants to control the people and is ever so willing to re-interpret rights such that government can burden, define, and even take them away (such as when third parties make a complaint that a certain individual is a threat and should have his/her firearms confiscated).

When I was attending law school, the controlling Supreme Court jurisprudence was that the right protected in the Second Amendment was not an individual right but a collective right. In 1939, the Supreme Court decided a firearms case, United States v. Miller, in which it interpreted the Second Amendment as such. The right to keep and bear arms, as a result of the case, was understood to be a collective right; it gave rise to the “Militia Theory” of the Second Amendment. I graduated from Seton Hall when this case was still controlling jurisprudence. The year after I graduated, however, marked a profound shift in the view of the Second Amendment. George Bush ran for president on the view that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms, for self-defense and self-protection. That was also the view held by the NRA at the time, which was one of Bush’s biggest campaign backers. John Ashcroft, Bush’s Attorney General issued a letter in 2001 renouncing the “Militia Theory” of the Second Amendment and endorsed the “Individual Rights” view. The US Department of Justice would from that date forward “unequivocally” support the view that the amendment guaranteed and protected the “private ownership of firearms” (as the letter read). Immediately after the letter’s release, Ashcroft send a memorandum to all federal prosecutors officially informing them of the administration’s official position. [In other words, the Attorney General, as part of the Executive Branch, NULLIFIED the position of the Judicial Branch].

In November of 2001, we had the first federal ruling to apply the updated view of the Second Amendment – United States v. Emerson. A federal appeals court in Texas held that the earlier decisions interpreting the Second Amendment to apply only to state militias had been wrong. The case involved a man who had been brought up on charges of illegally possessing a firearm. Timothy Joe Emerson’s wife had previously accused him of threatening her, which led her to obtain a temporary restraining order against him. Under federal law, a person under such an order is prohibited from possessing firearms. Emerson, however, refused to give up his. He argued that under the Second Amendment, he should be able to keep his gun, his Beretta pistol, because the Constitution guaranteed him the right to have one for self-defense. The court agreed with him, under the Ashcroft DOJ view. The original meaning of the Second Amendment, the ruling articulated, was to guarantee individuals, and not just militias, the right to keep and bear arms. [The ruling went on to explain that persons with a history of violence could be legally barred from possessing guns. And using that logic, the court ordered Emerson to stand trial]. But the Emerson case marked a profound shit in Second Amendment jurisprudence. And then the 2008 landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller solidified that view in a brilliant and masterful opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

I have written extensively about his in my article “Anatomy of a Supreme Court Case: District of Columbia v. Heller (2008),” which I posted on my blogsite on June 12, 2019. [https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2019/06/12/anatomy-of-a-supreme-court-case-district-of-columbia-v-heller-2008/].

Why are lawmakers talking about Red Flag Laws and other Gun Control Laws? Why are Democratic candidates like Beto O’Rourke talking about government confiscation of firearms? It’s because they have no clue what significance the Constitution has as a founding document, as a document to define and empower the federal government while at the same time, limiting it. It’s because they have no clue whatsoever why the Bill of Rights is so critical and what purpose those amendments serve in our so-called “free country.” It’s because they idolize leaders such as Hitler and Stalin more than they idolize visionaries such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Why are millennials, liberals, and progressives (ie, Democrats) so willing to fight for and support gun control laws, to support gun bans, and to support repeal of the Second Amendment? It’s because they don’t value liberty. They aren’t inclined to take the chances that come with a free society (which is the reality that bad people will do bad things, especially in our current era devoid of religion and morality and strong stable families) and they aren’t willing to accept the responsibility that comes with being a member of a free society, which includes the support of policies that strengthen families, morality, self-sufficiency, honest education, proper gender roles, religious guidance, inclusion rather than “diversity” (which is actually code for division and identity politics), the rule of law, and the rights of victims over the rights of criminals, and which reward sacrifice and success, military service, and common sense. Healthy communities are the natural by-product of good and responsible law-making, where the most productive qualities and most productive conduct are encouraged and protected.

It is so true what they say….. People who do not know what their rights are, who don’t know why those rights are essential, and who don’t know how they are secured are the ones who are unfit to stand up for them. In a way, they are undeserving of the freedom that the United States offers. Being an American means you responsibly exercise your God-given and other liberty rights, you respect the identical rights for others, you conduct yourself in a way that reflects admirably on the United States, and you accept the duty of defending those rights, opposing government when it abuses its powers, and in general, ensuring that the country you inherited is at least the same (but hopefully better) than the one you will leave to future generations. That is the way you preserve our great American experiment and the way you preserve individual liberty.

It all starts with proper and honest education. Education should always favor the people and their rights and responsibilities, and not the supremacy of the federal government and its agenda. And that’s because the primary role of government, as explained in exquisite detail in the Declaration of Independence, is to secure and protect the rights of the individual. When it ceases to perform that primary role, then government as is should cease to exist and the people should “alter or abolish” it and institute another government, “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

So please read Judge Napolitano’s article below and share it. Please use it to help educate your children, grandchildren, etc. At least use it to begin a conservation, a debate, or to inspire them to learn more. We can take back our country and protect our rights, one child at a time. They are our future.

RED FLAG LAWS: THE DANGEROUS URGE TO DO SOMETHING, by Judge Andrew Napolitano, Sept. 20, 2019 [https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2019/09/20/red-flag-the-dangerous-urge-to-do-something/ ]

When the Constitution was written, the idea of owning arms and keeping them in the home was widespread.

The colonists had just defeated the armies of King George III. The colonial weapon of choice was the Kentucky long rifle, while British soldiers used their army-issued version of Brown Bessies. Each rifle had its advantages, but the Kentucky (it was actually a German design, perfected and manufactured in Pennsylvania) was able to strike a British soldier at 200 yards, a startlingly long distance at the time. The Bessies were good for only about 80 yards.

Put aside the advantages we had of the passionate defense of freedom and homeland, to say nothing of superior leadership, it doesn’t take any advanced understanding of mathematics or ballistics to appreciate why we won the Revolution.

It is a matter of historical fact that the colonists won the war largely by superior firepower.

Six years after the war was over, delegates met in Philadelphia in secret and drafted what was to become the Constitution. The document, largely written in James Madison’s hand, was then submitted to Congress and to the states, which began the process of ratification.

By then, Americans had already formed two basic political parties. The Federalists wanted a muscular central government and the Anti-Federalists wanted a loose confederation of states. Yet the memory of a Parliament that behaved as if it could write any law, tax any event and impair any liberty, coupled with the fear that the new government here might drift toward tyranny, gave birth to the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — the Bill of Rights.

The debate over the Bill of Rights was not about rights; that debate had been resolved in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence declared our basic human rights to be inalienable. The Bill of Rights debates were about whether the federal government needed restraints imposed upon it in the Constitution itself.

The Federalists thought the Bill of Rights was superfluous because they argued that no American government would knowingly restrict freedom. The Anti-Federalists thought constitutional restraints were vital to the preservation of personal liberty because no government can be trusted to preserve personal liberty.

Second among the personal liberties preserved in the Bill of Rights from impairment by the government was the right to self-defense. Thomas Jefferson called that the right to self-preservation.

Fast-forward to today, and we see the widespread and decidedly un-American reaction to the tragedies of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Even though both mass murders were animated by hatred and planned by madness, because both were carried out using weapons that look like those issued by the military, Democrats have called for the outright confiscation of these weapons.

Where is the constitutional authority for that? In a word: nowhere.

The government’s job is to preserve personal liberty. Does it do its job when it weakens personal liberty instead? Stated differently, how does confiscating weapons from the law-abiding conceivably reduce their access to madmen? When did madmen begin obeying gun laws?

These arguments against confiscation have largely resonated with Republicans. Yet — because they feel they must do something — they have fallen for the concept of limited confiscation, known by the euphemism of “Red Flag” laws.

The concept of a “Red Flag” law — which permits the confiscation of lawfully owned weapons from a person because of what the person MIGHT do — violates both the presumption of innocence and the Due Process requirement of proof of criminal behavior plus the opportunity to challenge that allegation before liberty can be infringed.

The presumption of innocence puts the burden for proving a case on the government. Because the case to be proven — might the gun owner be dangerous? — if proven, will result in the loss of a fundamental liberty, the presumption of innocence also mandates that the case be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Republican proposal, the “Red Flag” laws, lowers the standard of proof to a preponderance of the evidence — “a more likely than not” standard. That was done because it is impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an event might happen. This is exactly why the “might happen” standard is unconstitutional and alien to our jurisprudence. It is simply not sufficient to protect our inalienable rights and the liberty rights we are entitled to, according to “the laws of nature and by Nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence, first paragraph).

In 2008, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the Supreme Court, in the case District of Columbia v. Heller, that the right to keep and bear arms in the home is an individual pre-political right. Due process demands that this level of right — we are not talking about the privilege of a driving a car on a government street — can only be taken away after a jury conviction or a guilty plea to a felony.

The “might happen” standard of “Red Flag” laws violates this basic principle. The same Supreme Court case also reflects the Kentucky long gun lesson. The people are entitled to own and possess the same arms as the government; for the same reason as the colonists did — to fight off tyrants should they seize liberty or property.

If the government can impair Second Amendment-protected liberties on the basis of what a person might do, as opposed to what a person actually did do, to show that it is doing something in response to a public clamor, then no liberty in America is safe.

Which liberty will the government infringe upon next?

 

ANDREW NAPOLITANO - head shot

References:

Judge Andrew Napolitano, “Red Flag Laws – The Dangerous Urge to Do Something,” Tenth Amendment Center, September 20, 2019. Referenced at: https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2019/09/20/red-flag-the-dangerous-urge-to-do-something/

Diane Rufino, “Anatomy of a Supreme Court Case: District of Columbia v. Heller (2008),” www.forloveofgodandcountry.com, June 12, 2019. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2019/06/12/anatomy-of-a-supreme-court-case-district-of-columbia-v-heller-2008/

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Redistricting in North Carolina: Democrats Find New Avenue of Attack Against Republicans

Redistricting in NC (flag pic)

by Diane Rufino, September 29, 2019

We’ve been hearing a lot about “redistricting” lately. In fact, we heard that a state court invalidated two of the popularly-mandated (that is, approved by voters in 2016) amendments to the state constitution (the one adding a photo ID requirement to vote and the other capping the state income tax at 7.5%) on the grounds that the bills giving rise to the amendments were the illegal products of an illegitimate NC General Assembly. The body was claimed to be “illegitimate” because several representatives were supposedly elected pursuant to improperly racially-gerrymandered district maps.

So what are we referring to when we talk about “redistricting”?

Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. Each of North Carolina’s 13 United States House representatives and 170 state legislators [120 for the House and 50 for the Senate] are elected from political divisions called districts. United States senators are not elected by districts, but by the states at large. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

I.  WHERE WE STAND (After Several Court Opinions) —

(1) On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause, finding that partisan gerrymandering claims, such as that made against North Carolina’s congressional district plan, present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. As part of its ruling, the high court overturned a district court ruling that had struck down the state’s congressional district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander. The case was remanded back to the state court system.

(2) On September 3, 2019, in the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, a state court struck down North Carolina’s legislative district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. Did you know that the state constitution requires districts to be drawn in a non-partisan manner? Clearly, those Democrats who were in power for over 110 years in the state, and who took their oaths to support the constitution, did not know it. Or if they did, they chose to violate those “apparent” provisions. Following the lead of a court in Pennsylvania which held that redistricting maps must be drawn on a non-partisan basis, the group Common Cause filed suit in North Carolina to challenge the 2017 redistricting maps drawn by a Republican-dominated General Assembly as being violative of the state constitution and its requirements for non-partisanship in elections.

Common Cause, a non-profit organization that claims to be “non-partisan,” was under the leadership of Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and a rabid socialist, for 5 years – from 2013-2018.

Here are the state constitutional provisions that Common Cause referred to in their challenge to the 2017 redistricting maps:

The NC state constitution provides, in Article I (“Declaration of Rights”):

Article I, § 14 reads: “Freedom of Speech and Press. Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Speech” Clause of the NC state constitution].

Article I, § 12 reads: “Freedom of Assembly and Redress. The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Assembly” Clause of the NC state constitution].

The NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh agreed with Common Cause. In their unanimous conclusion, issued earlier this month on September 3, the 3-member panel of judges (Judges Paul Ridgway, Joseph Crosswhite, and Alma Hinton) wrote:

The Freedom of Speech Clause in Article I, § 14 of the North Carolina Constitution provides that “freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.” The Freedom of Assembly Clause in Article I, § 12 provides, in relevant part, that “the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” The 2017 Plans, therefore, violate the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and assembly, irrespective of whether the plans violate the U.S. Constitution. [pp. 317-318]

North Carolina’s Constitution Protects the Rights of Free Speech and Assembly Independently from the Federal Constitution. The NC Supreme Court has held that “in construing provisions of the Constitution of North Carolina is not bound by opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States construing even identical provisions in the Constitution of the United States.” The NC Supreme Court has further held that the North Carolina Constitution’s Free Speech Clause provides broader rights than does federal law. In particular, the Court has held that the North Carolina Constitution affords a direct cause of action for damages against government officers in their official capacity for speech violations, even though federal law does not. [pg. 318]

In 2017, the US Supreme Court wrote: “By packing and cracking Democratic voters to make it harder for them to translate votes into legislative seats, the 2017 Plans “single out a subset of messages for disfavor based on the views expressed. This is the essence of viewpoint discrimination.” Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744, 1766 (2017, Kennedy concurring). NC Republican legislators (defendants) drew the 2017 Plans in a way that deliberately minimized the effectiveness of the votes of citizens with whom they disagree (ie, Democrats).  [pg. 326]

Question: Isn’t the historically accepted exercise of re-districting by the political party in power to “minimize the effectiveness of votes cast by citizens with whom they disagree”?   I think everyone has come to accept this as the permissible consequence of election outcomes. “Elections have consequences.” How many times have we heard this? The Supreme Court itself has made this statement in its opinions.

In their opinion, and as they wrote, “it is the carefully-crafted maps, and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and, ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly.”

The judges concluded that the 2017 Redistricting Plan violate the Freedom of Speech and Assembly Clauses by discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. They went on to conclude that the Plans violate the Clauses for an independent reason. “In addition to forbidding discrimination, those clauses also bar retaliation based on protected speech and expression.” [pg. 329]. Furthermore, they concluded that “partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable under the North Carolina Constitution” (pg. 341).

They ultimately concluded and ruled: “There is no reasonable doubt the 2017 House and Senate Plans are unconstitutional under the North Carolina Constitution, and the Court enjoins their use in the 2020 primary and general elections…..” (pg. 347)

The ruling went on to require:

“The Court will require that Remedial Maps for the House and Senate legislative district maps for the 2020 election (hereinafter “Remedial Maps”) be drawn (within 2 weeks), and that the Remedial Maps comply with the criteria adopted by the General Assembly’s House and Senate Redistricting Committees on August 10, 2017, with several exceptions, including the following:

(1) In redrawing the relevant districts in the Remedial Maps, the invalidated 2017 districts may not be used as a starting point for drawing new districts.

(2) “Election Data” criteria shall not be permitted in the drafting of the Remedial Maps. In other words, partisan considerations and election results data shall not be used in the drawing of legislative districts in the Remedial Maps. The Court likewise will prohibit any intentional attempt to favor voters or candidates of one political party.

(3) The Court will require Legislative Defendants and their agents to conduct the entire remedial process in full public view. At a minimum, that would require all map drawing to occur at public hearings, with any relevant computer screen visible to legislators and public observers. Given what transpired in 2017, the Court will prohibit Legislative Defendants (ie, Republican legislators) and their agents from undertaking any steps to draw or revise the new districts outside of public view.”

**** Reference::  Opinion of the NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh (September 3, 2019), which is 348 pages in length – https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

The new maps were drawn up on September 17. They were reviewed and ratified by a court-appointed referee the same day. The non-partisan house legislative plan and map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan and map was ratified as S.B. 692.

(3) North Carolina’s House of Representatives comprises 120 districts; North Carolina’s State Senate comprises 50 districts. The responsibility for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines lies with the state legislature (NC General Assembly). District maps cannot be vetoed by the governor.

II.  THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DRAWING UP DISTRICT MAPS FOR ELECTIONS 

As we all know, there are two general types of elections in our country – federal elections and state elections. The US Constitution and federal law provide the legal guidelines and requirements for drawing up districts for federal elections (ie, for US congressional districts). The state constitution and state laws provide the legal guidelines and requirements for state elections (for state house and senate districts).

A.  FEDERAL ELECTIONS & FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

According to Article I, Section 4 of the US Constitution, the states and their legislatures have primary authority in determining the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections. Congress may also pass laws regulating congressional elections.

The US Constitution provides:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Snators.” [Article I, Section 4]

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. There are 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Each state is allotted a portion of these seats based on the size of its population relative to the other states. Consequently, a state may gain seats in the House if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states.

In 1964, the US Supreme Court ruled in Wesberry v. Sanders that the populations of House districts must be equal “as nearly as practicable.” This is where we get the general rule “One Person, One Vote.” In fact, the equal population requirement for congressional districts is strict. Any district with more or fewer people than the average, representing even a 1 percent deviation, will most likely be unconstitutional.

B.  STATE LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING —

The US Constitution is silent on the issue of state legislative redistricting. However, in the mid-1960s, the US Supreme Court issued a series of rulings in an effort to clarify standards for state legislative redistricting. In Reynolds v. Sims, the court ruled that “the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment] demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as of all races.”

The following is a list of recent redistricting bills that have been introduced in or passed by the North Carolina state legislature.

NC H717 – Judicial Elections Changes. “An Act to revise the judicial divisions; to make certain adjustments to the assignment of counties to the superior court, district court, and prosecutorial districts; to clarify listing of judicial seats on the ballot; and to limit rotation of superior… “ 6/28/2018: Ch. SL 2018-121

NC S209 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process……”   6/21/2018: Re-ref Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H927 – 2017 House Redistricting Plan A2. “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina house of representatives…..” 8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-208

NC S691 – 2017 Senate Floor Redistricting Plan (4th Ed.) “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina Senate…..”   8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-207

NC S692 – Adjourn August Redistricting Session & Reconvene. “A JOINT RESOLUTION adjourning the session reconvened pursuant to Section 2.1 of Resolution 2017-12, as amended by resolution 2017-14, and further amending RESOLUTION 2017-12.”   8/31/2017: Ch. Res 2017-15

NC H677 – Amend Who Can Serve on Three-Judge Panel. “An Act to provide that district court judges may be appointed to serve on three-judge panels for actions challenging the validity of Acts of the General Assembly…..” 4/21/2017: Passed 1st Reading

NC H735 – Redistricting by Computer. “An Act to amend the North Carolina constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission to redistrict via computer software programs utilizing politically neutral criteria to district….. “   4/13/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H674 – Independent Redistricting Commission. “An Act to amend the constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission…..” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H714 – Fair Redistricting Study Committee. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting……” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC S554 – Fair Redistricting/Postmark & Absentee Ballots. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting and to provide that absentee ballots received by a county board of elections by mail on the day after the election that are not postmarked are deemed to have been postmarked……” 4/3/2017: Ref To Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H200 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process…..” 2/28/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

Up until the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, no mention had been made of any state constitutional requirements to the process of state legislative redistricting. Litigation using this approach is just another desperate act of a dying political party to protect any power possible at the ballot box (power denied to Republicans for over 110 years). The Common Cause case, being unanimous in its opinion, opens a whole new line of litigation in the national battle over partisan gerrymanders.

Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause of North Carolina had this to say about the court ruling: “The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.”

Here is an interesting question: If the NC state constitution requires non-partisan state legislative districts, as Common Cause and Democrats allege, why did the NC General Assembly feel the need to pass the 2017 law, NC H674. NC H674 (“Independent Redistricting Commission”) was intended to amend the NC constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission in order to guide the Senate Redistricting Committee in designing redistricting plans to ensure they are as non-partisan as possible.

III.  THE STATUS OF NC HOUSE and SENATE REMEDIAL DISTRICT MAPS —

Pursuant to the Common Cause v. David Lewis ruling of September 3 and its order to draw up new, non-partisan maps, the NC General Assembly, under the watchful eye and subject to approval of a court-appointed referee, adopted remedial maps on September 17. The non-partisan house legislative plan/map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan/map was ratified as S.B. 692.

Republican leaders declined to challenge and appeal the ruling.

Speaking for the Republican members of the General Assembly, Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement to Charlotte-based station WBTV: “The decision contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent…. Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point. It’s time to move on. To end this matter once and for all, we will follow the court’s instruction and move forward with adoption of a nonpartisan map.”

The reason for the decision not to challenge the ruling may be two-fold: First, under the new maps, the Republican party will continue to control a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly. And second, if Republicans had decided to appeal, there is really a good chance that the ruling would stand, given that Democrats control North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

Voters are urged to contact their county Boards of Election, or to review the maps provided by the General Assembly (online, see the Reference section for the links) to confirm which state districts they have been assigned to for the 2020 primaries and the 2020 general election.

IV.  POTENTIAL LEGAL CHALLENGE to the VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1965 —

I think the climate is ripe for a legal challenge to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Essentially, Section 2 mandates that district lines cannot be drawn in such a manner as to “improperly dilute minorities’ voting power.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 reads:

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

In 1982, Congress examined the history of litigation under Section 2 since the bill’s passage and concluded that Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the result of denying a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

First of all, the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague, and has been so, under our political system. The truth is that African-Americans have been, and continue to be, almost completely identified with the Democratic Party. It is said that approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party, if not higher. And so I say that the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague because it assumes that any standard, practice, or procedure related to voting that affects African-Americans does so specifically and only because of the color of their skin. It makes no room for the possibility that a particular law, practice, procedure, standard, etc that affects them has the goal of addressing a political party or political views, just as it would affect others of the same political persuasion, and NOT to affect them because of their skin color. A “just” law must make room for legitimate reasons for its passage.

And so, I believe Section 2 should be amended accordingly.

Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the primary or sole purpose, as well as the intended objective, to deny a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Second of all, Section 2 provides a strong incentive to perpetuate racial stereotypes and racial victimization (ie, the “race card”) in voting.

Third, it offers a tremendous legal protection to the Democratic Party.

Here is my concern. The Voting Rights Act was drafted and passed to protect the voting rights of African-Americans. This was the piece of legislation specifically designed to address the many violations of African-American voting rights, as recognized and secured by the 15th Amendment. In fact, in 1980, the Supreme Court held that Section 2, as originally enacted by Congress in 1964, was a restatement of the protections afforded by the 15th amendment. [See Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980)]. Under that standard, a plaintiff had to prove that the standard, practice, or procedure was enacted or maintained, at least in part, by an invidious purpose.

As mentioned earlier, at least approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party. So in effect, because Section 2 protects African-Americans unconditionally, it protects the interests of the Democratic Party outright. Now, the over-all goal of re-districting, at least in our current time, is NOT to suppress black voting OR to give blacks special protection. It is race-neutral. It is concerned with party affiliation only. Only a moron would think otherwise. Yet that’s the position that Democrats and African-Americans routinely take. They take the position not because they know it to be true but because it’s politically expedient. They know that race matters; they know that racial challenges are taken seriously. They know that lawyers being turned out of today’s liberal law schools are indoctrinated in social justice and see it everywhere – even when it doesn’t exist. The true goal of re-districting is to draw up district maps in a way that favors the election of the reigning political party. “Elections Have Consequences.” Maps can be re-drawn by Republicans to disfavor registered Democrats and to favor Republicans, and that would theoretically be allowed. Similarly, if Democrats have the majority in General Assembly, they too can re-district to favor their party. And they have, when they were in power. This practice has been an accepted one since the end of the 1700’s.

But look at the situation through the lens of Section 2. If Republicans re-district and the group of voters (registered Democrats) affected happen to be white, then no harm no foul. The re-districting is permissible. The disgruntled white Democrats have no recourse. But if those same registered Democrats just happen to have black skin, then it’s a whole different ballgame, right? Suddenly they have a cause of action under Section 2. They immediately have a cause of action. They can sue the government body; they can challenge the restricted maps as being impermissible gerrymandering, And chances are that they will be successful in court.

But the truth is this: Republicans are not looking at skin color at all – only political party affiliation. Democrats are Democrats. A white vote for a Democratic candidate is no different from a black vote for a Democratic candidate. And so Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, although passed for an honorable and a neutral purpose, as applied since the 1960s it is a strong legal tool that benefits only one political party – the Democratic Party. And so it is used exactly as such – as a legal tool to advance party interests.

Regarding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, I believe it is ripe for a legal challenge. In the alternative, the US Congress can alter its language, as suggested above. The purpose of the challenge or the amending of language must be to get rid of Section 2 as a political tool of the Democratic Party and to get rid of the baseless claims made for no other reason than to undermine the Republican Party or to perpetuate the false notion that racism exists insidiously in our country today.

 

References:

“Redistricting in North Carolina,” Ballotpedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_North_Carolina

Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019), Supreme Court Opinion. Referenced at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-422_9ol1.pdf

Case Review, Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019). Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Rucho_v._Common_Cause

Rucho v. Common Cause (August 27, 2018), ruling from the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (lower federal court). Referenced at: https://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/MDNC-Opinion.pdf

Common Cause v. David Lewis (judgement, Sept. 3, 2019), NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division – Wake County. Court ruling referenced at:  https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

Brennan Center for Justice, “A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting,” Brennan Center for Justice. Referenced at: http://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/CGR%20Reprint%20Single%20Page.pdf

“Redistricting Cases Heard by the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ballopedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_cases_heard_by_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States

House Bill 1020 (H.B. 1020), “2019 House Remedial Plan.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at: https://ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/H1020

Remedial House Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6558/0/HB%201020,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20HB%201020%202nd%20Edition

Senate Bill 692 (S.B. 692), “2019 Senate Consensus Nonpartisan Map.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at:  https://ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/Senate/PDF/S692v4.pdf

Remedial Senate Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6583/0/SB%20692,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20Senate%20Consensus%20Nonpartisan%20Map%20v3_11x17

 

APPENDIX I: Gerrymandering

The term “Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to favor one political party, individual, or constituency over another. When used in a rhetorical manner by opponents of a particular district map, the term has a negative connotation but does not necessarily address the legality of a challenged map. The term can also be used in legal documents; in this context, the term describes redistricting practices that violate federal or state laws.

The phrase “Racial Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to dilute the voting power of racial minority groups. Federal law prohibits racial gerrymandering and establishes that, to combat this practice and to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, states and jurisdictions can create majority-minority electoral districts. A majority-minority district is one in which a racial group or groups comprise a majority of the district’s populations. Racial gerrymandering and majority-minority districts are discussed in greater detail in this article.

The phrase “Partisan Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district maps with the intention of favoring one political party over another. In contrast with racial gerrymandering, on which the Supreme Court of the United States has issued rulings in the past affirming that such practices violate federal law, the high court had not, as of November 2017, issued a ruling establishing clear precedent on the question of partisan gerrymandering. Although the court has granted in past cases that partisan gerrymandering can violate the United States Constitution, it has never adopted a standard for identifying or measuring partisan gerrymanders.

There is more information on Gerrymandering at this link – https://ballotpedia.org/Gerrymandering#Partisan_gerrymandering

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Introducing Mark Robinson, Candidate for NC Lieutenant Governor

MARK ROBINSON - for NC Lieutenant Governor (head shot)

by Diane Rufino, September 20, 2019

Yesterday, the Republican Women of Pitt County and the Pitt County GOP held a joint monthly meeting to hear candidate for NC Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson.

We know there are several candidates who have already declared their campaign for NC Lieutenant Governor, such as Buddy Bengal (NC Education Lottery Commissioner), Scott Stone (former state rep), Andy Wells (current state senator), Greg Gebhardt (NC National Guardsman and army vet), Deborah Cochran (former mayor of Mount Airy), and Renee Elmers (disgraced former US congresswoman from district 2). And then there is Mark Robinson. Mark stands out from the other candidates for one very special reason – he is not a politician, he has no political experience, and he has no money. He is a businessman, a man who has worked in the furniture industry. He is simply an ordinary citizen who has finally had enough of the nonsensical liberal policies that are threatening his precious liberties, he has dared to push back against city government in a very vocal and public way, and he wants very badly to use his enormous voice and his unbridled passion to represent the good and decent law-abiding citizens of our state against the looney left. Mark is exactly the type of candidate that our Founders envisioned – a citizen servant. A person of the community who steps up to serve to make sure government remains accountable to the people it serves and respects the rights it is obligated to secure, and then goes back to his community to resume his business.

So who is Mark Robinson? Mark, the man, is a strong Christian and a strong conservative. He believes government is best when it governs least. His devout faith and the experiences of his life have shaped who he is and how he thinks. Mark, the candidate, is running as defined by 4 categories. He puts them in order this way: He is running first and foremost as a Christian, then he is running as an American (“Notice I did not say African-American. I am simply an American. I was not born in Africa, I have no relatives in Africa, I have not visited Africa, and when my ancestors were brought over here on slave ships, no one from Africa tried to stop them and no one from Africa came to America to fight to bring them back home.”), then he is running as a Conservative, and finally, he is running as a Republican. How he identifies himself says a lot about who he is as a man and who he is as a candidate.

We first took notice of Mark back in April 2018 when he stood up defiantly against the Greensboro City Council and delivered a passionate and heartfelt speech on the right to bear arms. The speech was captured on video and went viral, being viewed close to a million times (according to Mark). Those few minutes in front of the Greensboro City Council, and those words and those sentiments were enough to catch the attention of FOX News, other news outlets in the US, and news outlets and groups all around the world. He was invited on FOX & Friends, he was interviewed by Lara Trump, and has visited and spoken all around the country (as far west as Las Vegas) and all around the world (as far east as Germany).

What did Mark say to the Greensboro City Council? Here is the transcript of his remarks:

“I heard a whole lot of people talking here tonight about this group and that group, about domestic violence, about blacks, and about this minority and that minority. My question is this: When are you going to stand up for the majority? And here’s who the majority is – I’M THE MAJORITY !! I’m a law-abiding citizen who never shot anybody, who never committed a serious crime, and who never committed a felony. I’ve never done anything like that. But it seems that every time we have one of these shootings, nobody wants to put the blame where it belongs, which is on the shooter. You want to put the blame on me. You want to turn around and restrict my right – my constitutional right that is spelled out in black and white. You want to restrict my right to buy a firearm to protect myself from some of the very same people you’re talking about here tonight. It’s ridiculous. I don’t think Rod Serling could have come up with a better script. It does not make any sense. The law-abiding citizens of this community and in many communities around this country are the first ones taxed, the last ones considered, and the first ones punished when things like this happen because it’s our rights that are being taken away. That’s the reason why I came down here today. Gun Show or no Gun Show, NRA or no NRA… I’m here to stand up for the law-abiding citizens of this community because I’m gonna tell you what’s going to happen…. The Crypts and the Bloods on the other side of town are not going to turn their guns in. They’re gonna hold onto them. What gonna happen when you send the police down there to take them? The police can barely enforce the laws as it is. From what I see, we demonize the police, we criminalize and vilify them and make the criminals into victims. And we talk about restricting guns?? How are we going to do that? How are we going to enforce the law when the police are already hamstrung? You’re not going to be able to go down there and take the guns away from these criminals. So the criminals are going to hang onto their guns. They’re still gonna have them. They’re still gonna break into my house and they’re still gonna shoot me with them. And guess who’s gonna be the one who suffers? It’s gonna be me.

Well, I’m here to tell you tonight that it is NOT going to happen without a fight. And when I say ‘fight,’ I don’t mean shots fired and I don’t mean fists thrown. I mean I am going to come down here to this City Council and raise hell just like those lunatics from the left do until you listen to the majority of the people of this city. I AM THE MAJORITY. The majority of the people in this community are law-abiding and they follow the law and they want their Constitutional right to bear arms. They want to be able to go to the Gun Show and buy a hunting rifle or a sport rifle. There are no military-grade weapons sold at a gun show. An AR-15 is not a military-grade weapon. Anybody who would go into combat with an AR-15 is a fool. It’s a semi-automatic 22 rifle. You’d be killed in 15 minutes in combat with that thing. We need to dispel all these myths and we need to stop all this division because the bottom line is that when the Second Amendment was written, whether the Framers liked it or not, they wrote it for everybody. AND I’M EVERYBODY! And the law-abiding citizens of this city are Everybody. And we want our rights and we want to keep them. And by God, we will, come hell or high water !”

We like what we heard from him at that Greensboro City Council meeting and we like what we heard from him yesterday at the joint Republican Women of Pitt County/ Pitt County GOP meeting. By all indications, he is the real deal.

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NC General Assembly Republicans Seize the Opportunity to Make Good on the Promises Made in the State Budget

NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY - House Chamber

by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2019

In June, the Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a state budget that included pay increases for our public school teachers and for non-certified school personnel, pay increases for teachers in the state community college system, pay increases in general for state employees, pay increases for state highway patrol, ample funding for our transportation system and for disaster relief, and changes to our state tax laws. Republicans were proud of the promises made to the people of our state and proud that they were, for the most part, able to do the right thing without having to raise the budget to any significant degree or to increase state funding. Refer to sections (a) thru (f) below, noting the horrendous provision included to cater to Democrats in section (b).

Despite all the good in that budget, Governor Cooper went ahead and did the unthinkable – he vetoed it. His despicable act threatened the promises made in that state budget. Luckily in North Carolina, a provision was passed in 2016 to provide that if a budget is not approved, the previous budget remains in effect, keeping spending at current levels. Without the new budget, teachers would not see their new increase in pay, state highway patrol officers would not see their pay increase, state employees would not see their pay increase, etc.

And so, the question that remained this summer was whether Republicans would be able to find a way to override the Governor’s veto and to make good on those promises. Would they be able to wrangle enough votes from Democratic lawmakers to reach the magic number of 3/5 of a majority (even though it seemed they were far from realizing that option)? Would they be able to work with Democrats to come up with a compromise that Governor Cooper would approve of (including Medicaid expansion, of course). Even though Republicans promised they would never give in on such a fundamentally unconservative issue. Would a different opportunity present itself (such as a legislative session where limited numbers of Democrats fail to show up)?

On June 27, the NC Senate passed House Bill 966 (HB-966), also referred to as the “2019 Appropriations Act” or more commonly, the “Budget Bill,” by a vote of 33-15. The bill then went to the state house where it passed by a vote of 64-49. The Budget Bill was, by almost all accounts, an excellent (but not perfect) budget proposal did not increase the state debt and which included pay increases and improved benefits to certain state workers.

The 2019-2021 spending plan (HB-966) included the following:

(a) A slight increase from the previous state budget. The 2019-20 budget of $23.9 billion represents an increase of $689 million from the 2018-19 budget, and the 2020-21 budget of $24.9 billion represents a 4% increase from the FY 2018-19 budget.

(b) Instructed that $14 billion be used in the first year and $14.3 billion in the second year to fund education related programs throughout the state. Laid out in the education section of the budget, teachers, assistant principals, and school principals would see salary increases at an average rate of 4.6%, 6.3%, and 10% respectively. An additional $30 million in FY 2019-20 and $53.2 million the following year would be used to fund five School Safety Grants: one for school resource officers, services for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment in schools, and additional school mental health support personnel. The budget would eliminate the current classroom and teacher supply fund and replace it with a $15 million appropriation annually to establish the Teacher Directed Classroom Supplies Allotment that would allow teachers to use an app to purchase textbooks and other supplies specifically for their classrooms. Sadly and very disappointingly, a provision (a Democratic initiative) was included that would lower the grading scale to be used in the state’s public school system to measure school performance, changing the weighting of the school achievement component to 51% and the school growth component to 49%. It substitutes the 10-point grading scale (with a failing grade of 64) with a 15-point grading scale (with a failing grade of 49). Starting this school year, it will take very little effort for a student to meet the state’s new “competency” criteria.

(c) Includes pay increases for state highway patrol and for state employees.

(d) Medicaid Transformation projects will receive a nonrecurring appropriation of $232.9 million in FY 2019-20 and $198.4 million in 2020-21 in order to support the efforts of transitioning the state to a managed care system. Additionally, the Health and Human Services portion of the budget allocates $150.2 million and $11.4 million in respective years of the biennium to pay for the runout of claims for individuals transitioning to managed care.

(e) The Department of Transportation will receive $98 million in additional funds for the contact resurfacing of roads and other general maintenance projects. The budget also allocates approximately $58 million in funding for Rail Infrastructure efforts and includes provisions to remove restrictions specific to light rail projects. $15 million recurring dollars from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund will be used for the GREAT grant program to help bring broadband providers to rural areas of the state.

(f) The budget contains several provisions to change North Carolina’s tax laws. Multistate corporations would be required to calculate their sales based on the percentage of their income that is due to products and services provided throughout the state. Tax and regulatory relief would also be granted to out-of-state businesses conducting disaster related work in North Carolina after a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Florence.

On June 28, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget. He vetoed the budget for one reason and one reason only – to hold salary increases hostage in order to coerce the General Assembly into passing an acceptable Medicaid Expansion bill. He was intent on having Medicaid available for all those who needed it in North Carolina, including illegal aliens. It was a sickening exercise of political power, of partisan politics, of executive bullying, and of political extortion.

If the budget had passed, the members of the General Assembly would have had the opportunity to go home for the summer. Instead, they were forced, out of an obligation to their constituents and an obligation to their oath of office, to remain in Raleigh to figure out a way to make good on their promises. They knew, as it stood, they did not have the votes necessary to override the Governor’s veto. They would certainly need some Democrats to cross party lines to join them, and that would likely not happen (given the actions of the Democrats with the Born Alive Survivors of Abortion Protection Act). Many may recall how Republicans tried a piecemeal approach to the budget – passing individual conference reports and bills to meet the pay increases promised to individual state employees. In fact, they passed 3 conference reports, one to provide the proposed pay increase to our state highway patrol, another to provide the proposed pay increase to state employees, and the third to provide the proposed pay increases to state Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Enforcement officers. An independent bill was passed to provide the proposed pay increases to public school non-certified employees and college professors and employees, and to provide bonuses for retirees.

No one can accuse a Republican lawmaker of not being tireless and dedicated to their position.

Note, though that none of the piecemeal reports or bills provided for a pay increase for public school teachers. I believe this was intentional. Although Republicans (not Democrats) had already given teachers six consecutive salary increases, teachers (organized by their so-called “union”) have continued to protest at the General Assembly demanding higher and higher pay. They never thank Republicans (indeed, they don’t even know what Republicans have done on their behalf) yet when Democrats were in power and never ever increased their pay, the same teachers never made a stink. I believe the Republicans wanted teachers to know that it was Governor Cooper alone who prevented them from enjoying a pay increase and didn’t want to help him escape the consequences of his despicable veto. I believe they wanted Governor Cooper to feel the heat from teachers – hoping, of course, that teachers would finally travel to Raleigh to condemn a Democrat and to protest at the Governor’s mansion.

That didn’t happen… No surprise there.

On September 11. Republicans in the General Assembly finally were able to make good on the promises they made in the 2019-21 appropriations bill. They were able to seize on an opportunity in the state house to take a vote to override Cooper’s veto. And exactly what was that “opportunity”? As Republicans noticed when they walked into the house chamber that morning, there were hardly any Democrats present, even though they had an obligation to be present for a scheduled vote. In fact, there were only 15 Democrats present at the time the session commenced.

The override vote passed, along strict party lines by a vote of 55-15. The veto override vote now sits with the Senate.

Immediately after the override vote was taken, house Democrats began to cry FOUL Rep. Deb Butler, one of the 15 Democratic house members to show up for the vote, screamed: “Speaker Moore, I will not yield. I will not yield….. I will not yield.”

But was their any duplicity or scheming involved in the override vote?   Absolutely not.  In fact, Republicans refer to their decision to take the override vote as an “opportunity,” while Democrats refer to it as “villainous” and “unfair.”

Here is what happened:

On September 10, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett county) was standing in for House Speaker Tim Moore, who was not in Raleigh. On the house floor that day, he read two bills into the record which would be considered by the body the following day – at 8:30 am. In other words, two bills were read into the calendar. Those bills were Senate Bill 118 (S.118), a prison safety bill, and Senate Bill 429 (S.429), a disaster recovery bill. At every legislative session, any bill that is remaining on the calendar (that is, still waiting for some action to be taken) can be taken up, depending on the discretion of the speaker or acting speaker. In fact, notice of the veto override was properly noticed and published on the House calendar, as it has been for nearly 2 months. Every legislator knew this. In fact, Speaker Moore had reminded members of the House repeatedly that whenever he saw that we had the votes to effect the override, he would call for the vote.

To emphasize, after Chairman Lewis announced his intention to take up the two bills, he announced a start time of 8:30 am for Wednesday for the house session. Lewis, House Speaker Tim Moore (who would be returning to the legislature the following day), present members of the House, and staff, were all planning to hold recorded votes on bills on the published calendar for Wednesday’s morning session.

The Minority Leader, Rep. Darren Jackson, asked if the vote on those two bills could be delayed until Wednesday afternoon to give Democrats a chance to consider them in caucus. (As you’ll note later, this was most likely a ruse to cover up what Democrats already had planned for the morning…..)   Acting Speaker Lewis agreed to allow the delay and said there would be no votes on those two bills until Wednesday afternoon.

This is a very important detail to grasp.

Rep. Lewis told Rep. Jackson he would delay the vote on S.118 and S.429 until the afternoon but he did NOT cancel the morning house session. He had made clear the day before that they would be voting on bills (and not just those two bills). Jackson apparently had mistaken what Lewis said to conclude that there would be no voting at all in the morning session. That begs the question then – Why even have the session? Why didn’t Speaker Lewis cancel it? If the session wasn’t cancelled, then there was clearly house business to address, including bills to be voted on and possibly, yes possibly, some calendar bills to re-visit.

Every night, the General Assembly (GA) publishes its calendar for consideration the following day. So, for those legislators who just happened to be absent and did not physically hear the bills to be addressed, they are able to receive proper notice by going to the GA calendar. And so, by the end of the day on September 10, the GA calendar listed the bills (S.118 and S.429) that it would take up the next day. Also on the calendar were those additional bills still waiting for action. Representatives who checked with the calendar would have also seen that a morning session was still scheduled, and it was to begin at 8:30 am.

As Republicans entered the house chamber on the morning of Wednesday the 11th, they noticed that there were barely any Democrats present. In fact, they noticed only 9 Democrats. At that point there were only 51 Republicans. This was a concern since legislators need a quorum to conduct business, and that quorum is 61 members. It was possible that the session would be cancelled. As both Representatives Keith Kidwell and Larry Pittman commented: “None of us, including the Speaker, had any idea when we came in for that 8:30 session on Wednesday morning, that the opportunity to override the budget veto would occur that morning.” They knew that only 51 of their members were present (out of a total of 65), and only a handful of Democrats were there, so there was no way they could have planned to vote on the override with less than 61 of House members present.

But then, as Kidwell recalls, the door opened and 4 more Republicans walked in and 6 more Democrats. That brought the total to 55 Republicans and 15 Democrats, which totaled 70 representatives and a quorum.

At this point, Republicans consulted House Speaker Moore about taking the override vote. The truth is that Republicans had always been looking for an opportunity to pass an override vote when Democrats let their guard down. That opportunity just happened to present itself on September 11th, while Democrats were off doing things they either weren’t permitted to do or otherwise shouldn’t have been doing.

Now, if Democrats were truly enraged and concerned about the override vote, there were two possible courses of action that could have been taken:

(1) The Democrats could have left the house floor, except for 1 member. This way, there would have only been 56 representatives and certainly not enough to conduct official business. The lone Democrat would be left to challenge any vote that the speaker attempted to take (“No Quorum !!”)

(2) Democrats could have coordinated their action and each rose to debate the bill (“I rise to debate the bill”), being allowed 5 minutes each. They could have continued with stalling tactics, all the while desperately attempting to wrangle more fellow Democrats to the house chambers. [As it turns out, as explained later, there were many Democrats in the building, in a session violating a court order, and they knew they could easily be reached and could easily be rounded up].

Instead, as Pittman explains, Rep. Deb Butler chose to begin a very disorderly temper tantrum at acting Speaker David Lewis, contrary to all rules of decency and decorum. Other Democrats went around the chamber, turning on microphone lights of numerous other members who were not there, videoing Rep. Butler, and even joining in with her childish display of yelling at Speaker Lewis so that we could not hear all that he was saying in the attempt to restore order. In the midst of her shouting, Rep. Butler revealed that many of the Democrats (those on the House Redistricting Committee, as it turned out) were together “downstairs right now trying to redraw partisan heavy maps.” So, in effect, Rep. Butler was trying to say that it was unfair of Republicans to take a perfectly legal vote, which was within the rules, while her Democrat colleagues were downstairs violating the court order about redistricting, which clearly prohibited anyone from drawing maps anywhere but on the committee floor, in public view, where that committee was dealing with that matter. In all the commotion, only nine of the Democrats voted, NO of course, and the other six were too busy throwing a hissy fit to vote. Those six were allowed to be recorded as voting “Nay” later on, during the afternoon session.

Rep. Pittman commented similarly on Rep. Butler’s behavior and accusations: “So I guess it was unfair for us to take a vote while they were breaking the law.”

Despite the video coverage of Rep. Butler screaming and admitting that Democrats, in fact, were in a meeting in direct violation of the court order, Democrats had the audacity to try backtracking and to try to cover up her admission. They began spreading the story that house Democrats had been at a 9/11 memorial service, and how dare the Speaker hold a vote when it should have been observing the date out of respect. As it was later revealed, only one Democrat member was actually at a memorial service at that time. To make matters worse for Democrats, House Minority Leader Jackson had confirmed in a press conference that in fact Democrats had been in a redistricting committee meeting planned that morning.

The failure of Democrats to show up at the 8:30 am session was likely the fault of House Minority Leader Darren Jackson. Misinterpreting what Speaker Lewis said the day before about delaying the votes of S.118 and S.429, Rep. Jackson told fellow Democrats that they didn’t need to be at the 8:30 am session. Rep. Jackson later admitted this to Rep. Larry Pittman. He said he felt the debacle was really his fault.

So, as Rep. Pittman explains it: “There you have it. The Democrats have no one to blame but themselves for losing a 55-15 vote to override the Governor’s veto of the budget. Furthermore, there were a number of them who wanted to vote with us who were not there.”

The truth is that there were likely several Democrats who would have voted with Republicans to override Governor Cooper’s veto. After all, pay increases are a great way to earn loyalty from their voters. But as we all know, Cooper has been playing hardball with his Democratic legislators, much the same way that President Obama did in DC with his Affordable Care Act. Cooper had been putting a lot of pressure on them to vote as he demanded. We saw that with the Born Alive Survivors of Abortion Protection Act, where he coerced Democrats to vote against the bill and to uphold his veto. To pressure Democrats into voting his way, Cooper would invite them to the Governor’s Mansion and introduce them to individuals who he said he would endorse and support as their primary opponents. It is not a far stretch to imagine that several Democrats are secretly happy that the over-ride vote went down as it did. They could claim that it was all a mistake (blaming Rep. Jackson), avoid making a very unpopular vote, and still take comfort in the fact that their districts will get the benefits coming to them in the budget.

In the end, Republicans stayed the course, kept their eye on the prize, remained committed to their promises, and were able to override the despicable veto of an outstanding state budget.

House Republicans, we thank you. You make us proud and remind us that we did the right thing by voting for you and sending you to Raleigh to represent us and our values.

 

References:

Dennis Van Berwyn – An Overview of the Override Vote

House Bill 966 (HB966), the “2019 Appropriations Act,” Lexologyhttps://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d10fff97-5727-492d-969c-5afe1ade9d87

House Bill 966 (HB966), the “2019 Appropriations Act,” ncleg.net https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/h966   and https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H966v7.pdf (bill text)

“Conflicts Between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly of North Carolina,” Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/Conflicts_between_Gov._Roy_Cooper_and_the_General_Assembly_of_North_Carolina

NC General Assembly website – www.ncleg.net

North Carolina State House, Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_House_of_Representatives

North Carolina State Senate, Ballotpediahttps://ballotpedia.org/North_Carolina_State_Senate

 

APPENDIX I: (The NC General Assembly)

A.  Make-Up of the General Assembly

The North Carolina House of Representatives is comprised of 120 members. Currently, Republicans hold a majority, 65-55. They lost 10 seats in the 2018 election. In the 2017-2018 session, Republicans held a supermajority – 75-45. The House Speaker is Rep. Tim Moore.

The North Carolina Senate is comprised of 50 members, of which Republicans hold the majority – 29-21. They lost 6 seats in the 2018 election. The Senate Pro Tempore is Senator Phil Berger.

The Governor has the power to veto any bill that comes to his deck for a signature. If the legislature feels strongly about the bill and is strongly opposed to the reasons the Governor provided to support his veto, both chambers can vote to override the veto. A vote equivalent to 3/5 of those in attendance in the chamber at the time of the vote (provided a quorum is met) is required by each chamber to override the veto.

If the General Assembly does not pass a budget or if the budget bill is vetoed by the Governor (without an override), there is a provision in North Carolina law that allows the previous budget to remain on in place until a new budget is approved. In other words, this stop-gap measure allows the state to run with a budget at all times. This “autopilot” law was enacted in 2016, inspired by a lengthy 2015 standoff between legislative leaders and then-Gov. Pat McCrory. The law creates an automatic continuation budget (ie, the prior budget remains in effect) such that spending remains at current levels.

B,  Background

With the 2018 election, Republicans lost their supermajority in the chamber. Democrats gained 10 seats, reducing the Republican majority from 75-45 to 65-55. [A Republican supermajority simply means that as long as Republicans vote strictly along party lines, they are always able to automatically over-ride a Governor’s veto]. The requirement for over-riding a veto is that a 3/5 majority in each chamber is needed.

North Carolina has a divided government, meaning that government power is shared, by a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances, between the Governor and the executive Council of State (executive branch), the General Assembly (legislative branch), and the state court system (the judicial branch). Sometimes a political party is able to hold a state government “trifecta” which means that the party controls the Governor’s office and a majority of the Council of State positions, a majority in the state house, and a majority in the state senate. Currently, no political party holds a state government trifecta. (The Republican Party held such a trifecta with the 2016 election – Pat McCrory as a Republican Governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the legislature). As of September 17, 2019, there are 22 Republican trifectas, 14 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control. In the 2018 election, Democrats had a net gain of six trifectas and Republicans had a net loss of four trifectas. Prior to that election, there were 26 Republican trifectas (of which North Carolina was one), eight Democratic trifectas, and 16 divided governments.

APPENDIX II: (Promises to NC Teachers)

(1) The pay increases included in the 2019-2021 state budget (HB966) represent the 8th and 9th consecutive pay increases to public school teachers by REPUBLICANS in the NC General Assembly.

(2) When Democrats held control of the NC General Assembly, teachers hardly ever received a pay increase. Even for five years prior to the historic political shake-up in the NC GA (when Republicans gained the majority), teachers never saw a pay increase; their pay remained stagnant.

(3) The average teacher pay in 2017-2018, thanks to the Republicans, was $53,975.00.

(4) Since Republicans have held the majority in the General Assembly, North Carolina has enjoyed the third fastest-rising teacher pay in the country.

(5) North Carolina boasts the second highest teacher pay in the southeast.

(6) The average teacher pay increase since 2013 has been $8,600. The average percentage increase of teacher pay since 2013 has been 19%.

(6) The percentage pay increase for teachers that Governor Cooper vetoed on June 28 (HB966) was 9.5%.

APPENDIX III: (NC Council of State)

There are 10 members of the NC Council of State, 6 of whom are Republican and 4 of whom are Democratic:

Governor – Roy Cooper (Dem)

Lieutenant Governor – Dan Forest (Rep)

Secretary of State – Elaine Marshall (Dem)

Auditor – Beth Wood (Dem)

Treasurer – Dale Folwell (Rep)

Superintendent of Public Instruction – Mark Johnson (Rep)

Attorney General – Josh Stein (Dem)

Commissioner of Agriculture – Steve Troxler (Rep)

Commissioner of Labor – Cherie Berry (Rep)

Commissioner of Insurance – Mike Causey (Rep)

North Carolina retains a unique system of divided executive power. The term “Council of State” harks back to a colonial era provincial council, which was essentially the upper house of the legislature, and then to a Council of State during the American Revolution, which was appointed by the legislature and curtailed the Governor’s power. The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 required “that the Senate and House of Commons, jointly, at their first meeting after each annual election, shall by ballot elect seven persons to be a Council of State for one year, who shall advise the Governor in the execution of his office.” When a new Constitution was adopted in 1868, the name and some of the powers or duties of the Council were retained, but instead of being appointed by the legislature, the members were now executive officers who were elected statewide, serving ex officio on the Council. At first, only the Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Superintendent of Public Works (an office which only existed briefly and was abolished in 1873) were on the Council of State. The revised state Constitution of 1971, which is currently in effect, provides that the Council of State consists of all the officers established by Article III of the document.

 

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