BYH, Trump. Did you think it would be that easy? That you could just be installed by Putin and his oligarchs, live a...

Court ruling would restore state's democracy


Judge James A. Wynn Jr., a native of Martin County, is part of a three-judge panel that has twice struck down a congressional district plan drawn by North Carolina Republicans.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Has the North Carolina General Assembly’s gerrymandering finally become so blatant and destructive of democracy that the courts will end politically inspired redistricting for good? Maybe. In fact, it’s beginning to look that way.

A three-judge federal panel has now ruled twice that North Carolina lawmakers pushed political gerrymandering beyond any reasonable limits and created electoral districts that stomp on the soul and principles of democracy. The first ruling, tinged with considerable judicial outrage, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices used their last term to duck several similar issues, sending our case and several others back to the lower courts for review.

This week, the panel that reviewed the North Carolina case came back with an even stronger rebuke to the architects of this state’s electoral maps. Writing for the judicial panel, Judge James Wynn of the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit said that, “We continue to lament that North Carolina voters now have been deprived of a constitutional congressional districting plan — and therefore, constitutional representation in Congress — for six years and three election cycles.” Giving the lawmakers another shot at redrawing the map, he said, “would further delay electing representatives under a constitutional districting.” The judges said they’re not inclined to give the lawmakers another chance, but may instead appoint a special master to do the job for them.

It’s about time. The lawmakers who drew the state’s electoral districts, led by state Rep. David Lewis of Harnett County, were blatant and unrepentant about their political bias. “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” Lewis said when the latest plan was adopted in 2016. “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

So he did indeed oversee a map that gives Republicans an overwhelming majority in our state’s congressional and General Assembly delegations — despite the fact that this state’s Republican population lags behind both Democrats and unaffiliated voters. On statewide races and issues, this state tends “purple,” sometimes selecting Democrats and sometimes Republicans, usually in a fairly close vote. Logic would dictate that our congressional delegation and our General Assembly would reflect that balance. But thanks to the wonders of computer-generated electoral maps, the Republicans have given themselves a completely unrepresentative grip on the political process, including the ability to easily override any vetoes cast by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have long held that redistricting is an inherently political process and they consistently upheld challenges to gerrymandering. But now, the process has become so outrageous — with North Carolina serving as a shameful national example — that the courts are leaning strongly toward some limits on partisan redistricting.

The timing of this latest decision may be disruptive. North Carolina has already held its primary elections and campaigning for the November elections has begun in earnest. If the courts require another redrawing of the districts, they may also force new primaries. That might happen in November, with a final congressional election to be held early next year. The judges will rule on that soon.

Meanwhile, it’s likely that Republicans will also appeal this latest decision to the nation’s highest court. But with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, that court is split 4-4 between Democratic and Republican appointees and a tie vote on the appeal seems likely. That would uphold the lower court’s decision and bring on redistricting and new elections.

As inconvenient as that may be, it’s exactly what we need. It’s time, once and for all, to end the kind of gerrymandering that has become the very antithesis of democracy. We’ve got to do better than this.

The Fayetteville Observer


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


December 10, 2018

While the National Flood Insurance Program covers only 134,000 households our of North Carolina’s 3.8 million, it will likely pay for repairs costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Add all the damage in other states this year, from Florence and later from Hurricane Michael, which flattened…

Harvey-Flood Insurance-4

December 09, 2018

It is almost a truism in criminal investigations that those who flip early and help prosecutors build their case against higher-ranking figures are shown greater leniency than those who try to gut it out.

Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s national security adviser, is…

Trump Russia Probe Flynn

December 08, 2018

In June 1948, after the College World Series and graduation day at Yale, young George H.W. Bush packed up his cranberry-red Studebaker (a graduation gift from his father) and headed the car’s distinctive nose in a southwesterly direction. The little car got him to Odessa and to a shotgun…

Obit George HW Bush-3

December 07, 2018

In the week since the state Board of Elections declined to certify the results of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District election, journalists and others have begun to fill in the details of a troubling case of apparent ballot fraud. In Bladen County — and perhaps other counties…

Election 2018 North Carolina Congress

December 04, 2018

As many as 670,000 North Carolinians could gain sorely needed Medicaid coverage if Gov. Roy Cooper and members of both parties in the legislature will work together to help them.

Now that voters have restored some balance to the state’s power structure, that idea isn’t so far-fetched…


December 03, 2018

What’s going on in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District? An election certification is being held up. The person behind the delay is being a bit coy about it. The public is in the dark. That needs to change — and soon.

The state board of elections refused Tuesday to certify…

Election 2018 9th Congressional District

November 30, 2018

On Nov. 6, 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) or Reagan Amnesty was passed. This act granted amnesty to those illegal immigrants in the U.S. that met the eligibility requirements of the act.

In passing the act, both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate agreed to secure…

November 30, 2018

By making it easier to sue for retaliatory arrests, Supreme Court justices could pump the brakes on “contempt of cop” cases where citizens’ cross words and surly attitudes lead to low-level criminal charges.

The high court heard oral arguments this week in Nieves v. Bartlett, a…

November 27, 2018

It appears the Trump administration is ready to add Venezuela to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism — a country non grata. That’s welcome news in South Florida, where thousands of refugees of Nicolas Maduro’s regime live in exile.

Citing U.S. officials and internal…

Venezuela Maduro-10

November 26, 2018

Fayetteville Observer

Last week, it’s an apparent chickenpox epidemic at a school in Asheville where some of the parents who may buy into faddish pseudoscience have chosen not to give their children what have become the standard childhood disease immunizations.

By the end of last week, 36…

83 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 9
        Next Page»   Last Page»