Supreme Court gave top NC Republicans a spot at the defense table. One may regret it.

BY NED BARNETT

The News & Observer

There is irony in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling released Thursday that upheld the right of Republican legislative leaders to intervene in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s voter ID law.

The court ruled 8-1 that the legislators have a right to be part of the state’s defense when they think that state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat and likely gubernatorial candidate in 2024, is not providing a strong defense of the voter ID law his party opposes.

That’s fair enough. Indeed, Stein himself had no objection to lawyers for House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger joining him in the defense. It was a federal court that saw no need for more players in the case.

The Supreme Court overruled the lower court, noting that civil procedure favors the right of parties to intervene when they feel their views are not being adequately represented. The irony is that Republicans benefited from a preference to listen to all sides in a case in which, the NAACP argues, Republicans are seeking to reduce the ability of Black voters to be heard.

In 2016, a federal appeals court panel called an earlier version of the state’s voter ID law an attempt to reduce Black votes “with almost surgical precision.” Now Republican lawmakers have made their voter suppression law less obvious and they want the courts to deny another challenge to it.

A federal district court found that Stein’s office, representing the State Board of Elections in the case, has provided an effective defense of the voter-ID law. For instance, the state’s lawyers successfully opposed the district court’s order that temporarily suspended the law. The court was sympathetic to Republicans’ concerns an adequate defense, but its decision primarily rested on the lawmakers’ right to defend their laws.

That didn’t stop Berger from portraying Stein on Thursday as an attorney general shirking his duty to defend the state. Berger said in a statement: “Gov. Cooper and Attorney General Stein’s opposition to voter ID has resulted in them intentionally sandbagging the defense of a law the majority of North Carolinians support. Today the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that.”

Laura Brewer, spokeswoman for the attorney general said, “Our office has never opposed the legislature’s involvement in this case, and we welcome their participation now, notwithstanding their baseless, partisan sniping.”

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor defended the lower court’s judgment that the voter-ID law has been adequately defended. In finding otherwise, she said, the Supreme Court’s majority made a glib assumption about a case from which the justices are far removed from the circumstances.

The Supreme Court ruling adds to North Carolina Republicans’ weakening of the checks and balances that depend on a separation of the state government’s legislative, judicial and executive branches. The Republican-led General Assembly has stripped the governor of some appointment powers and added partisan labels to judicial elections.

Now Berger is ready to have a role in the defense. He said, “I’m thankful for today’s ruling and look forward to fighting to implement our state’s voter ID law.”

The Senate leader may not always be grateful for this green light to get more deeply involved in legal challenges to state laws. In such cases, Berger and Moore are often named as nominal figures connected to the case only through their titles. But as they assert their rights to dictate legal strategy and decide on settlements, they are becoming real actors in the case.

That could complicate cases in which lawsuits naming Berger come before the state Supreme Court where the senator’s son, Justice Phil Berger Jr., sits. Justice Berger has refused to remove himself in one such case, presumably because his father is named only in his capacity as president pro tempore of the Senate.

Justice Berger’s refusal to recuse, already suspect, will become a blatant affront to judicial standards now that his father has decided to become part of the defense team when state laws are challenged.

Read more at: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article262821343.html#storylink=cpy

Cardinal Park Marks Juneteenth With Community Celebration

IMG-2281.jpg

The entrance to Cardinal Park during its second annual Juneteenth celebration

IMG-2324.jpg

Ida Murray of Aberdeen, Margaret McKayhan and Jocelyn Jones of Southern Pines stopped by after church to celebrate.

With funk hits rolling over the grounds, visitors relaxing in the shade of the tall pine trees and children splashing in the lake, and food trucks serving barbecue chicken and pizza, festivity was in the air Sunday afternoon at Cardinal Park.

For many of the people from around Moore County who attended the Pinebluff park’s second annual Juneteenth event, the celebration was twofold.

Not only did they commemorate the day in 1865 when Union troops reached Galveston, Texas and enforced the emancipation of 250,000 enslaved African-Americans. That day came more than two months after the end of the Civil War, and two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln took effect.

A century and a half later, those of all races observing Juneteenth did so as they also embraced more recent recognition of that milestone for Black freedom as a watershed moment in American history.

“This is like a second Independence Day,” said Quatiesha Solomon.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law national observance of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The holiday recognizes a historical event, but it’s also symbolic of Black Americans’ struggle toward emancipation, civil rights and equality under the law.

“We had Black History Month and Martin Luther King Day, but not really something to celebrate freedom, to celebrate us as a people,” Juanita Solomon said.

As visitors trickled into Cardinal Park on Saturday afternoon, pitching shade tents under the tall pines around the lake, Christopher Capel was reminded of his childhood. Capel’s grandfather Felton Capel established the park in 1962 for underprivileged children — but it soon became a gathering place for the entire Black community, who had few options for recreation in a segregated county. His father, Mitch Capel, now manages the park after reopening it in 2019.

In his role as a vice president with a nonprofit dropout prevention program in Charlotte, Christopher Capel has observed how awareness of Juneteenth has entered the wider corporate and popular culture.

“I knew what Juneteenth was, many of my colleagues did not. That’s of any race. I grew up in an environment where this was a part of my life,” he said. “I knew about it because of my father, he’s a history buff, and because of my grandfather. But it wasn’t taught in my schools, any of them.”

Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation are key components of U.S. history curricula. But the millions of enslaved people who waited years for the promise of freedom to be fulfilled, the history of Juneteenth, usually isn’t included. Chattel slavery in the United States did not formally end until Dec. 6, 1865 with ratification of the Thirteenth Amerndment.

“Particularly in my organization there’s some education around what Juneteenth is, and the purpose of it, that it’s not just another day off,” said Capel.

Margaret McKayhan of Southern Pines has noticed the proliferation of Juneteenth celebrations in the last few years along with wider observation of the holiday. She hopes it will enhance the sense of shared history among Black Americans.

“In unity there is strength,” she said. “Hopefully something like Juneteenth will make us stronger so that whatever else is going on out there we can face it together.”

In Memoriam Maurice Holland, Sr.

Maurice Holland, Sr passed away after a brief illness on Thursday, May 26th.

He was active in the East Aberdeen Precinct until his health failed. He served as an State Executive Committee member for Moore County and was a Delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte to nominate President Obama and Vice President Biden. In addition, he served as the 1st Board Chair of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice for 10 years with then Executive Director and now Associate Justice of the NC Supreme Court, Anita Earls.

A native of Moore County, he was finally able to vote in municipal elections beginning at age 65. Through his activism and hard work with the UNC Center for Civil Rights, working with Managing Attorney Mark Dorosin, NC House Representative Jamie Boles, and late NC State Senator Harris Blake, he succeeded in having the Midway Community annexed into the Town of Aberdeen. As a result of those efforts, the community was provided services such as water, sewer and garbage collection.

Maurice Holland was a friend to everyone he met, and held in the highest esteem by the Moore County Democratic Party.

Memorial Service:
Saturday, June 4th, 2022 2:00 pm
John Hall Presbyterian Church
520 Dowd Rd Carthage NC 28327

There will be a public viewing at the church 1 hour prior to the service.

Cards and condolences may be sent to:

Mai Ceasar-Fleming Holland
346 Midway Rd., Aberdeen NC 28315 or

Maurice B. Holland, Jr.  
358 Dawkins St., Aberdeen NC 28315

Congressional Candidate Ben Clark

NC 9th Congressional Democratic Candidate Ben Clark

I was prepared to retire from public life after five terms in the NC Senate, where I passed $500 tuition for FSU and UNCP, a $15/hour minimum wage for state workers, teacher pay raises, and the elimination of state tax on military retirement income.

Then January 6 happened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmRimPjL4E0

Like many of you, I was watching in real time when crowds stormed the capitol, disrupted the certification of a free and fair election, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with our brave law enforcement officers, which led to the deaths of five of these heroes.

I couldn’t believe it.

Even more unbelievable, my congressman was on their side every step of the way! The same day, he voted with them to overturn a free election, the hallmark of American democracy, calling it his “solemn duty.” And, he asked the Supreme Court to overturn a legitimate election, which of course their oath wouldn’t allow them to do.

The decision was an easy one. 

More than 40 years ago, in 1981, I raised my hand and took an oath to protect this democracy from all enemies. I spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, serving around the world in many of the NATO countries that today are still holding the line against the march of anti-democratic forces, just as we did back then.

I retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Col. and for the past 20 years, I’ve worked at Ft. Bragg, where I was born, preparing our troops to do what I did – defend our nation and our democratic way of life. 

You see, protecting democracy is not a campaign slogan for me. 

It’s in my blood. 

It was instilled in me by my father – a retired Army aviator who flew combat missions in Vietnam. He believes America is worth fighting for – and so do I. So, that’s why I’m running. Whether in the military, the Congress, or wherever the mission leads, as long as I’m able, I will fight to protect and defend this great nation. 

Join me in the fight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmRimPjL4E0

Clark for Congress

ABOUT BEN CLARK
Ben Clark is a member of the NC Senate, representing Hoke and Cumberland Counties. Ben was commissioned in the US Air Force in 1981 and served 20 years at duty stations around the world. Ben has spent the last 20 years at Ft. Bragg, where he was born, preparing the next generation of soldiers to protect and defend American democracy. Ben is a commonsense Democrat running for Congress on a Family First Agenda. 
Use of Senator Clark’s military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Air Force or the Department of Defense.
For more information about the Clark for Congress Campaign, visit 
www.BenClarkNC.com.