U.S. SUPREME COURT CLOSES THE BOOK ON NC VOTER ID LAW

May 18, 2017–Voting rights and civil rights advocates in North Carolina won a major victory this past Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer that struck down the 2013 NC Voter ID law. This decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ends debate on this particular, onerous law as it passed in North Carolina in 2013, and finalizes its repeal, according to The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website) and The New York Times (May 17, 2017). I applaud this decision and the final repeal of the 2013 NC voter ID law.

The end of the struggle against the NC voter ID law represents a major victory in the ongoing battle to sustain the currently relevant right to vote in North Carolina. The NC voter ID law had chipped away at that right, and the effort to diminish the right to vote in North Carolina has been defeated, at least for now.

In an earlier blog post in which I interpret and celebrate NC Governor Roy Cooper’s election, I predicted that the days remaining for that law in the federal courts were numbered, now that a Democrat occupied the governor’s office. The voter ID law had already been struck down at the 4th Circuit, but an appeal remained to the U.S. Supreme Court. That forecast of mine in my earlier blog post turned out to be accurate, now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal.

   Republican Party leaders in North Carolina have vowed to write and pass a new law to accomplish the 2013 law’s goals and that could pass federal judicial review. The Republican Party controls the state legislature in North Carolina, so theirs is no idle threat. Passage of such a new law would be difficult, however, in the current political climate of North Carolina, which features Gov. Roy Cooper, Democrat, as the current governor.
   “…Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the commonsense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote,” said NC House Speaker Tim Moore in a joint statement with NC Senate Leader Phil Berger, as quoted in The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website). There may well be more-to-come in North Carolina on this issue, then, but at the very least, the 2013 voter ID law has now been repealed, finally.
   Leaders of the struggle against the 2013 law in North Carolina over the past few years, including the Rev. William J. Barber II, President of the NC NAACP, were thrilled at the news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. The NAACP had filed the lawsuit against the law, and in a news conference in Raleigh, NC, when the ruling was announced, people in attendance broke into a standing ovation and a chant, “Forward together, not one step back,” according to The Charlotte Observer (May 15, 2017, website).
   Nationally, according to analysis in The New York Times (May 17, 2017), the decision about the North Carolina law represents a temporary victory in a broader, ongoing struggle, according to Heather K. Gerken of Yale University, as quoted in The New York Times. More cases on similar laws relevant to voting rights, federally, are pending in front of the Supreme Court, regarding Wisconsin, Texas, and even North Carolina, in a different instance.
   Although the struggle is far from over, nationally, and even in the State of North Carolina, in the long-term, this current ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the Court rejects the appeal of the federal repeal of the 2013 NC voter ID law, this final defeat of the 2013 NC law marks a major victory for the struggle to maintain voting rights in North Carolina, and nationally. I applaud this ruling and celebrate this moment in our common, shared history.


–Nicholas Patti
Charlotte, NC

North Carolina Is No Pariah State

April 15, 2017–I add my voice to the growing chorus of voices to welcome the State of North Carolina back into the fold of the other 49 States in the United States of America. The current mayor of Charlotte, NC, Jennifer Roberts, joined fifteen other mayors across North Carolina to call for an end to the travel bans to this State, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). Ms. Roberts was the author of the original, local anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte that granted access to transgender men and women to the bathroom of their choice, and that banned discrimination against LGBT people in Charlotte. That local law prompted HB2, the obnoxious State law that overturned her anti-discrimination ordinance and institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation, statewide. HB2 has been overturned by North Carolina, following the lead of the new, Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. As part of the deal, the original Charlotte ordinance had already been repealed, some months ago. About the replacement law, HB142, Governor Cooper was reported to have said that he would have liked it to have gone further, but that this compromise was all he could achieve, in terms of a compromise with NC Republicans in the State Legislature, who followed his lead and repealed HB2. North Carolina should be understood to be no pariah State any longer.

            Unfortunately, the issue still generates controversy. I think controversy is good, so far as it goes, but it should not extend to social and economic damage to North Carolina, and Charlotte, NC, anymore. Let us look at the facts:

 

            First, the travel bans. Just this past Wednesday, April 12th, California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced that his State would continue the travel ban on taxpayer-funded travel to NC despite the repeal of HB2 in North Carolina. He claimed the repeal and replacement law did not go far enough in protecting LGBT people in North Carolina from discrimination, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA: 4/13/2017). In addition, the City of Chicago, Illinois, and the State of Washington reaffirmed their travel bans to NC just this past week, despite the repeal of HB2, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). Critics claim the new law is still discriminatory.

 

            In contrast to these renewed bans on travel to North Carolina, the NCAA and ACC college sports leagues gave a “vote of confidence” to North Carolina after the repeal, according to The Charlotte Observer (4/15/2017). They had moved significant sporting events out of the State, previously, in protest of HB2. The NBA (National Basketball Association) is considering bringing its All-Star Game back to Charlotte at this time, also. It had pulled it out-of-state, previously, also in protest against HB2. I support the return of the NBA All-Star Game back to Charlotte at this time.

 

            Next, we should take a look at the new replacement law, itself. The civil rights community, including in North Carolina, agrees that it does not go far enough. I would include the Mayor of Charlotte in those ranks, however, and she just called for people and government entities to drop their isolation and alienation of Charlotte and the State of North Carolina. Mayor Roberts faces re-election this year in Charlotte, also. I support her bid for re-election.

 

The problem with the new law, HB142, is that it leaves in place a ban on any new, nondiscrimination local ordinances across North Carolina until 2020, according to The Charlotte Observer(4/15/2017). Even so, the new, Democratic governor of NC, Roy Cooper, was reported to have said that the new deal would begin to reverse the economic damage already done to the State, and would prompt the return of sporting events and economic development back to North Carolina. This benefit would happen, he is reported to have said, despite the new law being, “not a perfect deal” and “not my preferred solution,” according to the New York Times (3/31/2017).

 

            The state of the bathroom policy, after the repeal of HB2, is to remove the state from the bathrooms, once again. Only the State Legislature of North Carolina may now regulate any such rules for and in the State, under the replacement State law, and no regulations currently exist (The Charlotte Observer, 4/15/2017). That means police officers will not need to be posted outside bathrooms to enforce hoped-for equality inside the bathrooms for transgender people. Instead, there will be no police in the bathrooms. The freedom that comes with no police in bathrooms will continue, but the dilemma for transgender people using this bathroom or that bathroom will remain unsolved, I think. The issue is left with our culture, changing or otherwise, and with our civil society—not our government. This is where the issue belongs, in my opinion, and where people should focus their energy to create progress for transgender people, also, in my opinion. We need to keep police, on-the-clock and on-duty, out of our bathrooms, I think, although I wish no harm to our officers, either.

 

            One less noticed provision that has been repealed from HB2 is the clause that restricted access to State Courts in North Carolina for any anti-discrimination, civil rights (or human rights) lawsuits, stemming from any acts of discrimination in the State, regardless of any local ordinances. This provision of HB2 fell without comment by civil rights advocates or anyone else, according to the New York Times (3/31/2017). I considered that quite a significant, discriminatory aspect of HB2, however, and I am surprised no one commented on it in the press, positively or negatively, and in fact, that the passing of the restriction from State Courts went unnoticed, also, by the press. Barring any comment or criticism about this provision, or about it being continued in the new law, which I understand it has not been, that provision fell, I believe.

 

            Therefore, although North Carolina is not leading the way against discrimination, not by any means, still, the State has restored standard, state-level access to justice to fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, on par with other states in the United States of America.

 

            What’s more, on Friday, the Republican administration of President Donald J. Trump dropped a federal lawsuit against North Carolina, one that had been filed by former President Barack Obama, on the basis that the State had been discriminating, under HB2. President Trump dropped the case in response to North Carolina’s repeal of House Bill 2.

 

 

            Although more progress needs to be made, in North Carolina and elsewhere, I think North Carolina is no longer a pariah State in the United States of America, not on this basis. People should drop their travel bans and isolation of the State, and return to North Carolina.

 

—Nicholas Patti
Charlotte, NC

POEM: …a Note on President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration

From the Lower East Side, a Note on President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration
 
 

The rust-colored

steel beams

rise

in the construction site

over
what used to be

a

nice, little Spanish

diner

here in the Lower East Side

of

Manhattan.

I sit

across the street,

looking out

from

the McDonald’s,
where I had

an

egg mcmuffin

breakfast

sandwich


with a

fresh, hot coffee.

I wish
I could have had

a
hash brown,

cooked
hot,

to
complete the breakfast

meal deal,
but the extra

dollar-and-a-half
would have been

too much
for me to spare.

I miss
the ketchup

I could have had
with it, too.

I savored
the coffee, though,

and
the few moments

of bliss
biting into the

breakfast sandwich,
as well.

Outside,
swirling about

in
the balmy, January air,

against
a grey sky,

but low
to the ground, mainly,

pigeons and sea gulls
are flying, nearby.

There
are lots

of
hungry people

sleeping,
probably,

down below
in

the subway
station,

underground.
None

have
come up

as of
yet

this morning
to

this McDonald’s.
Last night,

within
a couple of city blocks,

in
this neighborhood,

I read
that over one million

people
protested President Donald J. Trump’s

inauguration
in Washington, DC,

and protested here
in New York

and other cities
across the country.

The news
said, also, that roughly 800,000

people
turned out to celebrate

the inauguration,
to witness


the swearing-in
and the new, conservative President’s speech,

which
I heard, also,


here
in New York,

and which
was strident, and


partisan.
Here in the Lower East Side

of
Manhattan, however,


life continues
to

carry
on.

—Nicholas Patti, 1/22/2017

New York, NY
 

ROY COOPER’S INAUGURATION IN NORTH CAROLINA GIVES DEMOCRATS HOPE

December 30, 2016–In a year in which Democrats lost the White House and loosened their grip on governors’ mansions from 31 to 33 in Republican control, according to the New York Times (12/5/2016), the experience of one state stands out. In North Carolina in 2016, Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in a pivotal and closely-contested election.
North Carolina is a divided state along partisan lines. The turnover in the Governor’s office, although not the State Legislature, shines a ray of hope for Democrats in an otherwise bleak election year. Liberals and activists fought so hard against the conservative McCrory through his entire term that inauguration day on January 7th will mark a milestone for Democrats in North Carolina, in the larger South, and nationally. The turnover of power reminds Democrats nationally in the United States that hope for the future remains viable for their party despite the loss of the Presidency to the Republican, Donald Trump, in a bitter national election.

Democrat Roy Cooper in a campaign photo

Writing on The Guardian website (UK: London, 12/20/2016), Richard Wolffe is wrong to discount the significance of the results in North Carolina for Democrats nationally, and in fact for Democrats’ faith in American democracy itself. He argues that due to Republicans chipping away at the appointment powers of incoming Governor Cooper in North Carolina, after the election, that somehow the basic fact of the hand-over from Republican to Democrat in that Governor’s office is substantially less meaningful. I disagree. While the Republicans are definitely being cheap in reducing some of the incoming Governor’s power, the Governor still has the authority to defend or drop state support for the voter ID law, for example, that McCrory stood behind so adamantly. Wolffe makes much hay of the voter ID laws across the South in his commentary, also, in which he disparages the state of democracy in America, centrally, after Trump’s victory via Electoral College, but not in the popular vote.
The voter ID law probably will have its days numbered in the federal courts after Democrat Roy Cooper’s win in North Carolina. Unlike Wolffe’s view that the experience in North Carolina is insignificant, even somehow part of the bleak record for Democrats nationally in 2016, I would argue that North Carolina’s watershed moment in the State and in the broader South gives Democrats sorely-needed hope and relief in an otherwise-difficult year.
If it is possible to have accomplished such a tremendously important triumph in North Carolina, it is still possible to accomplish the same on the national level in the future. All is not lost for Democrats since Donald Trump is taking the White House on January 20th. Look at North Carolina. There is still hope for Democrats in the future in the United States of America, and the prospects for American democracy itself are still good, not faltering.

–Nicholas Patti

DONALD TRUMP WINS 2016 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

November 9, 2016–I listened to the news of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election come in over my hand-held, transistor radio on WNYC, 93.9 FM, National Public Radio, in New York. Listening to the reports roll in, I grew increasingly despondent as the night continued. I voted for and supported Hillary Clinton, Democrat, and I lost. Donald Trump, Republican, won. Hillary Clinton has called to concede defeat, but has not yet delivered her concession speech. Donald Trump has addressed his supporters in his victory speech.
     At least I could enjoy the comfort of my shared office space, my dedicated desk, with wi-fi included in the rent. This is where I listened to my public radio over my early twentieth-century technology, a simple radio, that remains a useful form of media. It is on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet, over this office space wi-fi, that I write my post. I combine earlier, simple, useful low-tech with more contemporary high-tech to post this entry on my blog.
     Small comfort. I am a democratic socialist who is sitting here now in my shared office space and watching the Republican Party sweep the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Presidency. All of this conservative ascendancy is led by our new President-elect, Donald Trump.
     There is nothing I can do but grin-and-bear-it, wince, and accept the results of this legitimate, democratic election. Woe be to us on the Left in America tonight, and presumably, for the next four years.
        Donald Trump rode a wave of what one speaker on NPR termed “reactionary populism.” I think so. Trump proclaimed economic nationalism and won, hands-down, in a white backlash vote against President Obama and the political elites of Washington, DC.
     In this broad, conservative electoral turn, President-elect Trump was shown to be right about his repeated claim that we would witness a Brexit vote here in the United States. In the U.K., voters recently turned away the plans of the political and financial elites, and stood up to take back their own destiny and take back their country. That is exactly what Donald Trump said the American people would do here in the U.S. by voting for him. Most people in the media and the polls did not believe him on this claim, but tonight the American people have done exactly that.
     The popular vote and the electoral college were both close, but Donald Trump clearly won.
     In his victory speech tonight, before Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, but after her call to him conceding defeat, in Donald Trump’s victory speech, he was not combative, but welcoming and hopeful, almost conciliatory, to all of the American people and to all countries around the world. Specifically, he promised opportunity to the American people, and fairness, and the opportunity for partnership, to all other countries around the world.
     I hope the mean tone and personal attacks between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the campaign can be put behind them.
     Finally, although I feel disappointed that Hillary Clinton lost, I hope that we can all survive—and make the best of—this upcoming Donald Trump presidency. At this point in history, it is all that we can do.
–Nicholas Patti
New York, NY

THE UK VOTES TO LEAVE THE EU: MY PERSPECTIVE

Charlotte, NC, June 24, 2016—Tonight, the news from London saddens me, although I feel excited to hear it live on BBC radio, first over the BBC channel on SiriusXM satellite radio, then in the BBC broadcast on WFAE, FM public radio (NPR affiliate, Charlotte, NC). It is already early morning in London.
     People in the United Kingdom (UK) have voted to leave the European Union (EU), according to the call of the BBC. The UK government has not declared a winner or loser, officially, yet, however. According to the BBC, various major newspapers in Europe have followed the lead of the BBC and called it for the “Brexit” side, or the leave side, in their morning headlines.
     Although I supported the remain side, the side to remain in the EU, out of a spirit of internationalism, I respect and affirm the result of the democratic vote, the referendum, on this issue. As a socialist, I champion democracy, as a value, and fundamental to that principle is the necessity of accepting and respecting the outcomes and results of a vote. Also, the fate and direction of each European country, including the UK, is entirely up to the people in that country, I believe. Therefor, although I have an opinion (and my side lost), that fact does not matter. What matters is what the voting public of the UK has said in their vote.
     My internationalist opinion arises out of my identity as an American, with the politics I already described. Also, I am Catholic, who, like so many American Catholics, forms my own opinion on the subject. I do not know, actually, any official opinion or opinions from the Catholic Church on the question, but that position would not matter to me. It would have made food for thought, though. My higher point here is that my political connection to the UK supersedes any religious connection I have. We are talking politics, not religion.
     Also, I am English, Scottish, and Italian by heritage and identity. I am witnessing the Europeans in Europe being… well… European. Historically, over the longer arc of history, Europeans have differences among… ourselves. Although Britain, i.e., “Brexit,” just voted to leave the European Union, no one can deny that the English, Scottish, Northern Irish, and Guernseyians, presumably, all of whom voted in the UK referendum, no one can deny their essential European identity. Ironically enough, voting to exit the EU only highlights their quintessential European identity.
     I would be a member of the Labour Party in England and Scotland. I think they should continue to support their internationalist vision for society, as a social democratic/democratic socialist party in Europe. Obviously, like all parties in the UK, the Labour Party should accept and respect the results of the referendum.
     It is a sad day for David Cameron, British Prime Minister. They say on the radio that he is done for, politically. His future in office is probably, as they say in America, toast. His side lost on the issue. In their parliamentary democracy, that is generally what happens over there, in the UK. Not in America, of course, but we are less democratic that way.
     Over here in America, however, we vote directly for the president. In the UK, they are less democratic, in that they do not vote directly for the Prime Minister. If I am not mistaken, they vote for their local Party member-of-parliament, who in their republican form of democracy, then chooses their Prime Minister along Party lines, and with any potential coalitions. A lot of people make a lot of hey out of our winner-take-all system, in America, but we do actually have a direct democracy structure for our direct vote for our president.
     Of course, General George Washington deferred on being our King, and insisted on some other office at the time. Hence, our directly elected President. In England and Scotland, there is still a King, and/or Queen, at this time… Queen Elizabeth II. Thank God.
     I am invested, emotionally, to find out what happens next in the UK government. Will there or will there not be a new election for Parliament, will David Cameron resign, and will they or will they not form a new government, with a new Prime Minister, a new Party, or not?
     Also, what will Scotland do? I am Scottish, myself, but I am wholly in favor of remaining with England in the UK. I know Scotland also lost the referendum, in terms of the popular vote. The City of London lost, also. I hope Scotland remains with England, and does not so something silly like leave and try to re-align with the rest of Europe. In fact, I hope Scotland does not even vote again on the subject of their national alignment.
      What of Europe? Well, if England follows the example of the nation of Italy, then maybe David Cameron has a chance. There, for example, in Italy, Prime Ministers have been known to re-take office. Who knows what that could mean for Mr. Cameron? He does not own any media outlets, so far as I know, but maybe he can pull off a political comeback after this electoral loss. Goodbye Europe, hello England and Scotland and, of course, hello Italy!
     Hooray for Europe, hooray for Britain, hooray for the vote, so sad for the results. All that we can do on the remain side, all we can do is accept the outcome, and move on.

—Nicholas Patti

Open Letter to the Editor: Voting Rights in NC vis-a-vis NY

Charlotte, NC/New York, June 20, 2016—I submitted the following letter to the editor to the New York Times, but it went unpublished. In the interest of balance, politically, let me weigh in on another issue in North Carolina politics, first. Although I wish to be counted against discrimination against LGBT people, I am against the bathroom law passed in the city of Charlotte, NC. On the photo-ID law in NC, however, I fall in on the mainstream, progressive side. My letter to the editor follows:

April 26, 2016

 

     With the ruling Monday by Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court in Winston-Salem, NC, the State of North Carolina fell backward from near the front of the line of the most advanced, progressive States on voting rights in the United States of America to near the end of the line, to one of the most reactionary in the country.

New York State moved up from significantly behind North Carolina on voting rights, for example, to far ahead of it.
North Carolina lost same-day voter registration and reduced the time for early voting, while New York has neither. On the more important policy of requiring a state photo-ID to vote, North Carolina fell far behind New York, which has no such provision. The federal judge upheld that plank of North Carolina’s 2013 law on Monday.
New York State is not without its problems, however. 126,000 Democratic voters were purged from the rolls, reportedly, in the New York State primary election in Brooklyn last Tuesday, according to the New York City Comptroller’s Office, Scott Stringer, as cited in the New York Post (4/25/2016).
Although North Carolina is no pariah with its softened photo-ID law, as compared and contrasted with New York State, with none, still the cause of voting rights in America would be best served by striking down the NC photo-ID provision. The NC law is next up for appeal in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia, according to The New York Times (4/26/2016).
Recently, North Carolina has been closely contested in U.S. Presidential elections, falling in line for President Barack Obama in 2008, and for the Republican, Mitt Romney, in 2012.
—Nicholas Patti

Poetry Open Mic & Launch of Charlotte Lit

February 27, 2016–A good poetry open mic happened on Wednesday, February 24th, at Waterbean Coffee in Huntersville, NC. Featured poets were Beth Ann Cagle and Anne Kaylor. One nice turn of phrase, from Ms. Kaylor’s latest book, Unwilling to Laugh Alone, was “…waiting for life to grow.” I enjoyed listening to the poems from both features. Also, I read two of my poems during the open mic section of the night.

Poet Anne Kaylor features at the open mic

In addition to this event, the launch of the Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, or Charlotte Lit, happened on Friday, February 19th, in The Light Factory gallery in Charlotte, NC. Poet Linda Pastan read her work as the feature of the night. She was the only poet to read, and I liked her work.

Good luck Charlotte Lit!

–Nick Patti
Charlotte, NC

Redraw the 12th Congressional District in NC, but Allow a Delay

February 13, 2016–United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts did not say, “no.” He did not say, “yes.” Instead, he said, “maybe.”
“Maybe” is what Roberts told North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and top state Republican officials when they asked him to sideline a federal court ruling and at least grant a stay on the federal court panel’s order. In that order, the three-judge, federal court panel ruled unconstitutional the boundaries of North Carolina’s 12th and 1st Congressional Districts, and gave the State until Friday, Feb. 19, to draw new districts, according to reports in The Charlotte Observer (2/11/2016, 2/10/2016).
Specifically, Chief Judge John Roberts offered no decision on the NC Republicans’ request for a stay and hearing. Instead, Roberts ruled that the plaintiffs in the Congressional re-districting case have until Tuesday, Feb. 16, to provide a response to the State’s request. That leaves only three days until the lower federal court’s original deadline for the State to redraw the districts, according to The Charlotte Observer (2/11/2016).
Therefore, the Chief Justice did not rule, “yes.” He did not rule, “no.” He ruled “maybe,” with an unrealistic time crunch, to boot.
Yesterday, Friday, Feb. 12th, the NC legislature decided to move ahead with redrawing the two districts to remain in compliance with the original federal court panel’s decision, according to The Charlotte Observer (2/13/2016). That was a wise choice. All of us wait to hear, however, what Chief Justice John Roberts will rule on Tuesday or soon after on the State’s request and appeal.
I think Justice John Roberts should grant a stay on the enforcement of the federal court panel’s ruling, but should not grant a hearing and appeal with the US Supreme Court. I hear the NC State officials’ complaint that the quick timing of the decision would throw this election into disarray, since it would force the State to move too quickly on the redrawing of the districts. Therefore, I think the Chief Justice should allow the decision to take effect immediately after the primary election: Roberts should give the State one month, until April 15th, 2016, to redraw the districts. That would be substantially more time than the two weeks originally provided by the panel, more than the one week that the State legislature is taking and using, and would not fall in the middle of a primary election. The new districts should be in place, however, by April 15th, I think, which would provide ample time for the general election to be held with the new district boundaries.
The current Congresswoman for the 12th District, Alma Adams, is running for re-election this year. She offered no opinion on the federal court decision at this time, but instead, she focused her attention on continuing to do her job as a Congresswoman and on running her re-election campaign.
“We don’t know what the impacts of this decision will be yet, but for now I am concentrating on doing my job as the Congresswoman for the 12th District,” Alma Adams said in a statement, “and running a campaign on the basis of my strong record of doing what is right for North Carolina and my District.” Sam Spencer, campaign manager for Congresswoman Adams, provided the statement.
Regardless of the outcome of all the current litigation, I support and endorse Congresswoman Alma Adams, a Democrat, for re-election to Congress in the 12thDistrict. I agree with her, and think she is good for the people of North Carolina, serving as our representative in Washington.

Congresswoman Alma Adams

Which brings us back to the merits of the case before the Chief Justice. I think the reality is obvious, and should not need to be heard by the full Supreme Court. The current party breakdown of NC’s congressional delegation is 10 Republicans and three Democrats, according to Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer(2/10/2016). That represents a lopsided number. Part of that must be attributed to the current political climate in North Carolina, definitely trending conservative and Republican, but part of that partisan representation may be due to Congressional maps that favor exactly the breakdown and representation we currently have.
Both the 12th and the 1st are represented by African-American Democrats, for example, and with the exception of one other seat held by a Democrat, all other seats are held by Republicans. That is precisely the kind of lop-sided representation that the current Congressional district maps in NC encourage.
The numbers follow race, as well. The Democratic Party vote is weakened across districts, and the African-American vote is concentrated into these two districts, both represented by African-American officials. These results indicate the diluting of the African-American vote out of nearby districts, and into the 12thand the 1st.
I think these two districts should be redrawn with sensible, obvious geography and politics as top concerns.

We should keep race in mind, however, I think, still, at this time. If it turns out that under the new maps, there are no African-Americans in the NC congressional delegation, then I think we might revisit the issue once again. Although I think we have made substantial progress in guaranteeing the right to vote to the African-American population, and in redressing their absence from political representation in Washington, still I think we are not all-the-way there on the voting rights front, as addressed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14thAmendment to the US Constitution.

For now, though, I think the numbers spell out an obvious case. We need to redraw these maps in a timely fashion with as little disruption to the current election as possible. I think there is no need for the full Supreme Court to explore all of these issues yet again, however, particularly for the 12thDistrict, which, according to Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer, has already been heard by our top court at least four times.
Leave it alone, I would argue. Delay the federal court panel’s ruling to make it more palatable to enforce by the current NC government, and otherwise, leave it alone. Let the ruling stand without further appeal. The merits of the case are obvious. This federal court panel has the right time for North Carolina in this ruling, and its order should stand.

—Nicholas Patti

Charlotte, NC