What ought to be appalling has now become routine in Raleigh. Republican leadership has beckoned their lackeys back into the state’s capital to go about their usual business: the methodical and disgraceful dissolution of our state.
The stated reason for their emergency session – which Governor Cooper has labeled the Deception Session – is to clarify the captions that will appear alongside their slew of constitutional amendments this November. Here’s the issue: that is not their job.
In 2016, the same Republican-led body passed SB 667, which, among other issues, required that “Proposed amendments shall be designated by only the short caption provided by the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission.” That commission consists of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State and the Legislative Services Officer — two Democrats and a Republican. And there’s the rub — it’s a group that the General Assembly cannot bend to their will.
The amendments they have thrown together for this fall are intentionally vague and deceptive, and that is by design so that voters simply will not know what some of them do. One talking point floating around is that the commission — the one the Republicans charged with this task — will politicize the captions. That claim is patently false, and is apparently the consequence of one person: Gerry Cohen.
Cohen served as the Director of Legislative Drafting for over three decades. In other words, he knows what the amendments will do. So when he contributed his two cents as to what the captions should be via a public forum provided by the Commission, it convinced Senate Leader Phil Berger that a special session was in order to stymie the Commission’s work. Not because Cohen offered misleading information, but because he offered accurate information.
As if all of that was not enough, they added another bill that would alter the judicial elections this fall. It makes it so that you cannot run as a Republican or Democrat if you were not registered as such 90 days prior to filing. This is not for races in 2020 — they are literally changing the rules of an election that is currently in progress. That should be appalling to any decent person, but now it is typical in Raleigh.
To top it off, the candidate targeted by the judicial bill is Chris Anglin, a lawyer running as a Republican for the Supreme Court seat. His candidacy was to offer a choice for Republicans fed up with the overreaches of this legislature. Oh, the irony.
Kirk Kovach is a native North Carolinian interested in writing about politics, communication and culture.