RALEIGH – Recently mailers have been distributed to North Carolina voters from the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement: Judicial Voter Guide 2018, With Proposed Constitutional Amendments. The mailer gives judicial candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to voters as voters traditionally know least about those running in judicial races.
Aside from Democrat plant and ‘Republican’ candidate for N.C. Supreme Court Chris Anglin’s naked attempt to foil the race for incumbent Republican Justice Barbara Jackson, the judicial information is standard fare.
What is most interesting is the descriptions of the six proposed constitutional amendments.
You probably remember that the state legislature moved expeditiously to relieve the N.C. Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission of their job duties in writing actual ballot language for the amendments. Why? Because the three-person commission is made up of two uber Democrats, State Attorney General Josh Stein and Sec. of State Elaine Marshall, that have extremely partisan views against the majority of the proposals.
Republicans argued that they would use the ballot language to sink the amendments with extremely partisan language, and passed a bill that let the amendments stand on their own.
Problem solved? Not exactly. While the commission’s version of amendment description captions would not be on the ballot itself, their language is still included in the aforementioned voter guide. And it makes the lawmakers move to prevent these Democrats’ partisan amendment captions from reaching the ballot look prescient.
Some of the amendments are harder for Stein and Marshall to sink, merely due to their innocuous nature. Others are described in clearly partisan terms, using talking points straight from the N.C. Democratic Party.
Right to Hunt and Fish
The Democrats can’t muster much to oppose in this one. They are limited to criticizing that the “amendment does not address its effect on local laws concerning public safety or on commercial hunting and fishing.”
Victim’s Rights Amendment
This has got to be the hardest for anyone, even desperate Democrats, to oppose. Otherwise known as Marsy’s Law, the amendment would give victims of crime the right to know when, for example, their assaulter is being released from prison, the right to be heard at sentencing hearings, and the like. It’s the kind of law Democrats would be championing in most other scenarios, but because it is put forth by Republicans it is being opposed by Democrats.
With nothing to criticize within the proposal itself, the Democrat authors end the description in the voter guide by critiquing the fiscal note:
“The public fiscal note that accompanied this legislation estimates that these changes to our justice system will cost about $11 million a year.”
Suddenly these Democrats care about spending restraint? No, but it’s all they have.
Cap Maximum State Income Tax at 7 Percent
Now we get into territory where Stein and Marshall are all too eager to parrot Democrat talking points. This amendment, plain and simple, caps the state income tax at seven percent. The state constitution already contains a cap at 10 percent.
During floor debate on this amendment, Democrats whined that it tied the hands of future legislatures and fear mongered that it would threaten, not only the State’s credit ratings, but also future funding for education. A similar approach is used in the official description:
“Income taxes are on of the ways State government raises the money to pay for core services such as public education, public health, and public safety. The proposed amendment does not include any exceptions. Therefore, in times of disaster or recession, the State could have to take measures such as cutting core services, raising sales taxes or fees, or increasing borrowing.”
Did you catch that? The official ‘non-partisan’ description of this tax rate cape is not so subtly telling voters that its passage is a threat to public education, public health, and public safety.
This one is a lightning rod for the Left. Stein actually intervened as state attorney general to sabotage the legislature’s wish to appeal court rulings on the issue. The Left’s political machine universally regards photo I.D. requirements as racist voter suppression.
What about the official ‘non-partisan’ description? Since their ‘You’re racist!’ line of attack is clearly not support by any facts at all, they are reduced to telling voters, essentially, that the Republicans won’t grant ANY exceptions and no one knows how to get I.D’s. They also throw in a feigned concern for fiscal conservatism:
“The Legislature would be authorized to establish exceptions to the requirement to present photographic identification before voting, However it is not required to make any exceptions.
There are no further details at this time on how voters could acquire valid photographic identification for the purposes of voting. There is no official estimate of how much this proposal would cost if it is approved.”
How many people do you know with out I.D.? Republicans have repeatedly said that any voter I.D. would be matched with legislation to provide, at no cost, I.D. to anyone that doesn’t have one. Is it any wonder that Republican lawmakers didn’t want these Democrats writing official ballot captions?
Judicial Vacancy Appointments
This is another target of the Left because it takes authorities currently given to the governor (Cooper) and places it in the legislature (evil Republicans).
In the official ‘non-partisan’ description the two Democrats repeat a debunked rumor about veto-proofing sinister conservative legislation by including judicial appointments within them, and then blatantly says the amendment – which is voted on in an election – weakens voting rights.
The cap it off with a warning that (Republican) lawmakers will use it to pack the state supreme court.
“Under the amendment, the Governor cannot veto any bill that recommends or selects the person to fill a judicial vacancy.
This proposed amendment weakens the voters’ constitutional right to elect judges by lengthening how long an appointed judge will serve before an election is held. […]
The Legislature has the constitutional authority to add 2 additional seats to the Supreme Court. If this amendment passes, then the Legislature could use this newly-granted power to choose unelected Supreme Court Justices for 2 newly created vacant seats.”
Fear mongering at its finest. With all that context Stein and Marshall provided, for *some reason* they forgot some other contextual information – that legislatures are the most accountable to voters as they are elected every two years.
To that point, why are these Democrats ignoring the possibility that, come 2020, the person in the Governor’s mansion is very likely to be a Republican? And, as steep a climb as it may be, the legislature could one day be back in Democrats’ control?
Never mind those eventualities, the Democrats are too short sighted and only concerned with scoring political points in front of the next election.
Bipartisan Board of Elections
Here is another amendment representing a power struggle between Cooper and the Republican legislature. The General Assembly tried to reform the board of elections via legislation, but, true to form, Cooper sued and a Democrat-majority Supreme Court gave him a win, overturning a lower court.
The official ‘non-partisan’ description by Stein and Marshall chooses not to mention all the court activity, only the final nail in the coffin from the high court, saying that it would overturn it. NEWSFLASH: That’s how constitutional/representative republics work.
It also wildly misrepresents the structure of the board to suggest it eliminates ‘non-partisanship’ when in fact it does the opposite.
“This proposed amendment would overturn that Supreme Court decision. It would reduce the current board from 9 members to 8 by removing the only member who represents unaffiliated voters.
If the amendment passes, majority and minority political party leaders in the Legislature would nominate the potential members of the board. There is an argument that nominated members could include members of the Legislature itself. […]
This process would likely create a board of 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans. If the amendment passes, there would be no 9th nonpartisan member.”
Let’s stop right there (there’s more) and consider this. The proposal would be a board evenly split among the state’s two largest political parties (Republicans and Democrats) which is where they pull the “likely” language from in order to cause confusion.
Further, this ‘nonpartisan’ member is merely someone registered as ‘unaffiliated,’ not that the person is miraculously free of political bias. The current ‘nonpartisan’ happens to side with Democrats ALL THE TIME.
Instead of this farce, the new proposal would require motions to be approved or rejected with at least six of eight votes, meaning every single decision would necessarily be bipartisan in nature.
And if they can’t get six votes? Ah, that’s where Stein and Marshall saw another opportunity to sow fear into voters.
“Removing the 9th board member may result in a 4-4 partisan deadlock vote. Under current law, a tie on this board could drastically restrict early voting opportunities.”
So, there you have it. Six proposed amendments, and six partisan propagandized attacks billed as neutral descriptions distributed to voters across the Old North State.
Don’t the Republican lawmakers that kept this Leftist talking points off the ballot look pretty smart now? Alas, voters are still be subjected to the Democrat’s desperate ploys.