The Hastert Rule and HB2

by | Feb 28, 2017 | Editor's Blog, HB2 | 10 comments

Right now, there are probably enough votes in the legislature to pass a clean bill to repeal House Bill 2. There are certainly enough to pass a version based on the framework offered by former Republican Governor Jim Martin back in May 2016. However, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger won’t let any such compromise come to the floor.

Given all of the consequences of the ill-considered and discriminatory law, why won’t the legislative leaders get rid of it? Well, they’re abiding by the Hastert Rule. The Hastert Rule is named for former Republican US House Speaker and pedophile Denny Hastert. Hastert wouldn’t let any bill come up in Congress without the support of at least half of the GOP caucus.

That’s the problem we have in North Carolina right now. Half the Republicans in both the house and senate believe that it’s more important to preserve the right to discriminate than welcome businesses and bring back sporting events to the state. Every compromise the GOP has offered ensures places that want to discriminate, can discriminate.

The latest proposal would allow nondiscrimination laws to be put on the ballot. The ugly truth is that if we had put Jim Crow laws on the ballot, pockets of North Carolina would still have segregated bathrooms and drinking fountains. The Founding Fathers rejected direct democracy in favor of representative democracy, in large part, to protect against tyranny of the majority.

Berger and Moore have rejected numerous proposals to end HB2. They’ve been more concerned with placating the social conservatives in their caucus than actually fixing the problem. They should adopt Martin’s framework or revisit Berger’s proposal from December and move forward with repealing the damaging law. It’s up to the Republicans to do it, not Cooper or the Democrats.

Berger and Moore need to stop using the Hastert Rule as an excuse. They have veto proof majorities in both houses of the legislature and a solid majority of both houses would vote do away with HB2. They can point fingers all they want but the public knows that they passed the law and they could repeal it right now.


  1. Tamara Brogan

    Thomas, great article and very accurate. HB 2 has been a fiasco for our state and the fact that the GOP majority in the GA can’t repeal it is sad. This is what happens when you pass crazy partisan legislation in one day without thinking it through and having debate and discussion. They never thought it through and considered the future consequences of their decision. Now, the debacle has come back to bite them and they can’t get away from it and shake it off their backs. The fact that many GOP in the GA can’t or won’t give up their extreme beliefs against discrimatation is scary and worrisome. They have created their own problem and it will end up costing them. You are correct that putting discrimatation issues on a ballot is scary and starts us down a slippery slope that we should never go down. The founding fathers did want to protect us from the tyranny of the majority because they knew it was a dangerous place to be and it would end up destroying the country. Just look at the days of the Jim Crow laws and Nazi Germany for examples. The Democrats and Governor Cooper are correct to not accept the referendum provision on discrimination. I hope they continue to hold firm.

  2. Apply Liberally

    I’ll stay away from any discussion about the weird khama associated with Hastert, his legacy and his highly partisan rule. I just say that Mr. Mills is square on.
    A solid majority exists in the NCGA among its members in both houses to simply repeal HB2. But a simple repeal bill won’t pass until Berger and Moore can find labyrinthian language and provisions in the bill that will appease the more radical, social/values segment within their party. Which is never.
    Also, McGrady was quoted as saying he “needs 35 Republicans to join 35 Democrats to provide enough votes to move the bill out of the 120-member House….”. He was basically saying that no bill will see the light of day on the floor if it has too many Dems and not enough GOP’ers likely to vote for it, i.e., if it looks like the end result might be construed in the public minds as the Dems “fixing the HB2 travesty. So again, partisan politics and optics are ruling the day , and keeping NC as a national pariah.
    I always comes down to HB2 being the GOP’s major mistake—which the GOP should fix and atone for.

  3. Jay ligon

    Hastert is doing time for a banking crime related to the blackmail he paid to one of his victims. The statute of limitations had lapsed on the underlying sexual abuse of his students. However, the sentencing judge in the banking case required him to admit his sexual crimes:

    “Hastert allegedly had molested or inappropriately touched five teenagers affiliated with the wrestling team he coached decades ago, and U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin on Wednesday forced him to acknowledge that abuse in specific terms.” Washington Post, April 27, 2016.

    I think you can call someone a pedophile after they admit in court to molesting five boys.

    • jay ligon

      Hastert was the squeaky clean Republican they installed as Speaker of the House to replace Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston. Both had infidelity problems which would have looked bad as the Republicans conducted the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Hastert was the “clean” Republican who took over for Newt so that they would not appear to be hypocrites when they took Clinton to task for his infidelities. Turns out, Hastert was a child molester. So much for clean Republicans and their “family values.”

  4. Thomas Mills

    The judge who sentenced him called him a “serial child molester.”

  5. Howard Bakken

    Dennis Hastert was our representative when we lived in Kane County, Illinois. How bizarre that his perverse influence continues to cast a shadow over us in North Carolina all these years later.

  6. Stephen Lewis, Sr.

    The only reason as I understand he has not been charged with a crime involving children is the statue of limitations had expired before he could be charged. Hastert was put into power y Tom Delay another convicted felon. There is alot of smell here. Which makes the irony of the GOP trying to claim what they are.


      Actually, Mr. Delay was maliciously prosecuted by a politically ,motivated prosecutor and his conviction was thrown out by a Court of Appeals on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to justify a conviction and the appeals decision was upheld by the next court up the ladder.

  7. Jay Ligon

    The legislative rule established by a Republican pedophile, Denny Hastert (now serving time in prison,) is preventing the North Carolina GOP from reversing the perverse HB2 law. Is this the Jerry Springer Show? Call in Dr. Phil. It’s getting nutty up in there.

  8. Stephen Lewis, Sr.

    First of all there is a certain irony that Denny Hastert, and who he is now is part of this anything to do with this. Secondly I did not ever like the Hastert rule to begin with. Tip O’Neil would not use anything like it. But that was another era in life. This will come back to bite the GOP but in the mean time the party and Governor Cooper have an interesting challenge ahead.

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