Exposed for who they are

by | Aug 1, 2016 | Editor's Blog, Voting Rights | 28 comments

When the court of appeals struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law last week, they said what everybody already knew. The law targeted African-Americans in an effort to keep them from voting. The court issued a stinging rebuke that essentially called the law racist.

Pat McCrory and Republican legislative leaders claim they were trying to combat non-existent voter fraud. If that were true, they could have easily passed a narrow bill to require voter IDs while ensuring everybody has the right to vote. That’s not what they did. They used research “on racial differences in voting behaviors in the state” to craft their law.

They passed a bill that sharply restricted the type of identification voters could provide, rejecting those types often used by African-Americans. They restricted the number of early voting days after seeing research that showed African-Americans were more likely to vote at the beginning of the early voting period. They eliminated same-day registration. They ended pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds that encouraged younger voters to register and vote. Taken together, the law was sweeping and clearly had little to do with voter fraud and everything to do with shaping the electorate. In other words, they were rigging the system at the expense of African-Americans.

The ruling speaks as much to the character of McCrory and the leaders of our General Assembly as to the merits of the law. They were clearly willing to deny fundamental rights to the people they are supposed to represent in order to maintain power. That’s the hallmark of authoritarians.

And it’s not just African-Americans. The legislature has consistently targeted the LGBT community, first with Amendment One and now with HB2. They passed an unneeded and unwarranted anti-Sharia law bill to intimidate the Muslim community. They pick on our most vulnerable communities.

The NCGOP is led by a group of bullies, bigots, and political opportunists. They were the party of Trump before Donald Trump and his rhetoric were even on the radar screen. They lack compassion and empathy and are more than willing to sacrifice the rights of the people for political power. The court’s opinion didn’t just overturn their discriminatory law, it exposed them for who they are.


  1. The Ghost of Elections Past

    And why has Present Obama been able to “pack” the 4th Circuit and some other federal courts? For years, the Republicans have refused to confirm many, or even most, of the judges whose names Democratic presidents have submitted for confirmation. Their excuse has been, “Bork! Bork! Bork!” From one case of tit-for-tat, Republicans have been trying to turn the federal courts into a right wing country club.

    The result? Our federal courts have been slammed with judicial shortages, and court dockets have exploded from the backlogs. Many of the present problems at SCOTUS have come because of the stubborn refusal to even consider a successor to Justice Scalia, even though the proposed candidate is probably “moderate” by most definitions. [Frankly, he’s too conservative in criminal cases for my taste, and since Thurgood Marshall left the Court, we haven’t had the perspective of anyone who has practiced criminal law with experience fighting for a client’s due process rights]. Finally, the pressure became so severe so the Senate finally confirmed some Obama appointments, most of whom are not really that “liberal.” Perhaps if Republicans would consider the best interests of the entire country instead of just political power, the justice system might have functioned more smoothly. I hope that the future President Clinton is able to “pack” SCOTUS with a load of young moderate-progressive judges to keep our political processes on an even keel.

    • Ebrun

      Ghost, I am not sure how the Obama nominees made it to the 4th Circuit, but two judges in the Virginia transgender case and in the NC election appeal decision were Obama appointees.

      And speaking of future SCOTUS appointees, I am sure you and others on the left do hope Clinton will “pack” the SC with “progressive” justices. That’s really the most important aspect of this coming national election.

      • Ebrun

        Just to clarify to help you avoid being confused, D.g., I obviously meant that I don’t know how or why the Senate approved Obama’s appointments to the 4th Circuit.

    • Ebrun

      You assumptions about me as just as wrong as many of your political observations, D.g. I am not female, am not an attorney and am not being paid by anyone to express my political opinions. But I appreciate your notion that my are opinions are worth monetary compensation.

      • Ebrun

        If being an “internet troll” means yanking your chain, D.g., then I’ll cop a plea.

  2. Ebrun

    D.G, there is an assured four SCOTUS votes to accept the appeal of the Virginia transgender case. This means that the court won’t rule until sometime in 2017. If its a four/four split, then the 4th Circuit’s ruling will prevail. But similar cases are moving up the appeals ladder in other circuits. There is a good chance there will be different rulings for different states on the transgender bathroom issue.

    In the meantime, you better hope that Breyer doesn’t defect from the liberal bloc, as he did on the stay of the 4th Circuit’s order. All it takes is one defection and HB2 and similar laws in other states will be left in place. And it’s not just NC. So far, 24 states are challenging the Obama Administration’s transgender bathroom order.

    • Ebrun

      Wow, D.g., that’s quite a rant into the depths of identify and racial politics. That’s approaching a new low, even for a gutter snipe.

  3. The Ghost of Elections Past

    I grow weary of Ebrun and other Republicans incessantly braying the label of “liberals” whenever some court rules against their ideologically held notions. Among those of us who have practiced law for more than a few years, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has scarcely been a “liberal” bastion–it has a history of being one of the most consistently conservative appellate courts in the nation. Only recently have a few rays of sunshine come through the clouds to suggest that perhaps there may be a changing environment in the 4th Circuit.

    • Ebrun

      Obama has packed the 4th Circuit with his appointee appointees. All the new justices are liberal Democrats. No longer is the 4th Circuit a “conservative” bastion. All there judges overturning the NC election laws were appointed by Democrats–two by Obama and one by Clinton.

  4. ClaraLawrence

    It is sad to know our elected officials are polished Klans. When are they going to realize that someone else is aware of their political corruption that is happening not only on the local level but also on a higher scale. The General Assembly is Governor McCrory’s boys. We need to examine the General Assembly. To know we have elected official to study the pattern of a race to deter an election, is misappropriation of the law. Maybe we need to investigate other laws they have passed to target other races. Someone must hold our officials accountable for their false actions. Who? This is an example of abuse of authority.

  5. Lee Mortimer

    As much as voter-suppression laws need to be abolished, they affect only a relatively few elections that are close. Those are mostly statewide elections for president, governor and U.S. Senate. Even there, only about 15 states are competitive in presidential elections. Far fewer state legislative and U.S. House elections are even remotely close. Only an end to gerrymandering and meaningful redistricting reform can make those politicians accountable to the voters.

  6. Yojji

    The decision is great reading. (skip to page 9). I went from that well-crafted, biting decision to read some of McCrory’s mealy-mouthed comments in the Charlotte News & Observer. He’s whining that his voter suppression law was only overturned because the bench is heavily Democratic. This is probably true, but his comments make it clear that he thinks protecting every citizen’s right to vote is a partisan issue that only Democrats value.

    • Jay Ligon

      Yogii: I agree with you. There is some choice language in the opinion aimed at both the district court judge and the N. C. GOP.

      • Ebrun

        The district court judge was appointed by a Republican. The three appeals court judges were Democrat appointees. Liberals just can’t resist playing the race card even when the Court is stacked in their favor. There is NO empirical evidence that the state’s Voter ID law has kept minorities, or any other eligible voters, from voting.

        • ML

          I disagree about any lack of empirical evidence that the voter id law has kept people from voting but the opinion turns on two other key points. First, the law served no compelling government interest (30 times out of more than a billion, is unjustifiable to require such action by the government) and was not narrowly tailored to said purpose (in the article Thomas lays out how this could have been achieved – or attempted, as it would have failed regardless). Finally, although the law applied equally to everyone, the law’s intent was to discriminate by disproportionately disadvantaging minority franchise.

        • ML

          I disagree about any lack of empirical evidence that the voter id law has kept people from voting but the opinion turns on two other key points. First, the law served no compelling government interest (30 times out of more than a billion, is unjustifiable to require such action by the government) and was not narrowly tailored to said purpose (in the article Thomas lays out how this could have been achieved – or attempted, as it would have failed regardless). Finally, although the law applied equally to everyone, the law’s intent was to discriminate by disproportionately disadvantaging minority franchise.

        • Jay Ligon

          Many racists would agree with you, but the court did not.

          “In evaluating the massive record in this case, the court issued extensive factual findings. We appreciate and commend the court on its thoroughness. The record evidence provides substantial support for many of its findings; indeed, many rest on uncontested facts.”

          The majority in the legislature studied voting patterns of blacks and enacted laws which to deny those voters an opportunity to vote.

          “In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.”

          Contrary to your belief that there was NO evidence of discrimination, the 4th Circuit relied on findings by the District Court conducted by your Republican appointee.

          “Thus, whether the General Assembly knew the exact numbers, it certainly knew that African American voters were highly likely, and that white voters were unlikely, to vote for Democrats. And it knew that, in recent years, African Americans had begun registering and voting in unprecedented numbers. Indeed, much of the recent success of Democratic candidates in North Carolina resulted from African American voters overcoming historical barriers and making their voices heard to a degree unmatched in modern history.”

          “When a legislature dominated by one party has dismantled barriers to African American access to the franchise, even if done to gain votes, “politics as usual” does not allow a legislature dominated by the other party to re-erect those barriers.

          The record evidence is clear that this is exactly what was done here.”

          The evidence was, as they say, overwhelming.

          • Ebrun

            Wonder why federal Judge Schroder did not overturn NC’s election law? Are you accusing the Federal District Court Judge who ruled in the state’s favor of being a racist a racist?

        • Ebrun

          Every eligible voter has been able to vote in the last two elections. This ruling only increases opportunities for non eligible folks to vote in vote state elections.

          And BTW, in regard to transgender bathroom access laws, did you see where SCOTUS just issued a stay of the 4th Circuit’s order that the Virginia school district must allow a transgender student to use whatever bathroom he/she wants to use? The ruling was 5-3 with Breyer joining the four court conservatives. Seems the liberal SCOTUS bloc can no longer be assured of four votes. This is the second recent decision that Breyer has broken with the liberal female justices.

  7. Frank McGuirt

    This is exactly what I was telling my Republican friends. Taken in totality the GOP voting changes were an effort to suppress Democratic voting. I do not know how those legislators can look at themselves in the mirror.

    • Hmmm

      Frank, don’t let them off the hook by letting them think that their party “made an effort” to prune some Democratic votes, just a clever prank conceived at a Wake Forest Young Republicans meeting that didn’t quite work. That’s not what happened

      It wasn’t just an effort: it was actual legislation, actually signed into law and actually enforced in the last primary, that by design actually kept a particular minority of US citizens from voting.

      My guess is they see patriots when they look in the mirror, patriots of the CSA that is.

    • JC Honeycutt

      …Pretty sure some of them don’t look in the mirror, because they don’t have any reflections. (That can be taken in two ways, either that they don’t reflect on issues but use the knee-jerk response, or that they may be vampires: take your pick.)

  8. Maurice

    The federal judges wrote these statements:
    1. “Counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black.”
    2. “African Americans disproportionately lacked the most common kind of photo ID, those issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

    Are these statements facts or opinions?

    • Hmmm

      Maurice, they were facts, clear as day. Just read pages 14-19 of the opinion.

      The trial judge in Greensboro found as fact that the General Assembly “requested and received racial data as to usages of the practices changed by the proposed law.” The judge also found as fact that the requested data proved the two facts you mentioned, along with three other facts about AA voting habits/patterns that the GA used in creating five voting restrictions that particularly and negatively affected AA ballot access.

      The trial judge found these five facts as true but nevertheless decided that there was no purposeful discrimination on the basis of race. Sort of a lay-up for the Fourth Circuit to call BS.

      What did Justice Holmes say? “Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and kicked.”

  9. Jay Ligon

    The Republicans have not been exposed as racists. The North Carolina GOP have appeased their racist constituency and attempted to guarantee a racist majority into the future.

    The right wing agenda relies on the broad support of that percentage of North Carolinians who want to return to the past and who have never adapted to racial integration. The caricature of the southern bigot is of a toothless hayseed with coveralls and a thick accent, but the reality is that our modern bigots wear suits and deodorant, and racist philosophy, once the hallmark of the uneducated, reaches the highest levels of society, preached from the megaphone at Fox News and right-wing radio.

    Without racists in Florida in 2000, Bush would have lost to Gore by tens of thousands of votes. Racists in South Carolina defeated John McCain by accusing him of having a black child. Racists in the Republican mainstream have quietly used race since the southern strategy which helped Nixon in 1968.

    Overt racism is newish. North Carolina’s GOP crossed that line and broke the law in the process.

    • Smithson Mills

      Well, in that case I will do my best to wear neither a suit nor deodorant until this election season is over. Just so folks know which side I am on.

      • Jay Ligon

        There’s a long hot summer ahead of you. Good luck!


    Why do they think the public is so stupid as to not be able to see the law for what it was? Why do these legislatures, who want their racist agendas, to get into law, think it is always going to work? I believe it is because they think there are more folks who think they way they do. …and that might be true….unfortunately for them, it does not mean some are willing obliterate the Constitution, even though some of them might agree with a biased law. You never really know who is going to agree with your agenda these days, so to the NCGOP, you have been exposed and you should step down from you jobs, as you are racists and do not want to abide by the Constitution and since I believe you are going to keep trying to keep Black folks from voting, you are going to keep pushing your agenda. WE ARE WATCHING YOU….hopefully, there are enough Democrats, or even Republicans, who do know like who you all are…hope they vote you all OUT.

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