Courting judicial overreach

North Carolina is one of six states facing uncertainty as to how federal court influence could change traditional procedures through which district maps — Congressional and state legislative — are drawn or re-drawn.

The outlook for 2018 is that no significant upheaval looms in our state, owed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s restraint in weighing in on lawsuits related to map redrawing with a mid-term election approaching. Yet, in three other states, SCOTUS rulings are expected to complicate voting dynamics in the short term.

This is but the calm before the storm. Writes NPR’s Domenico Montanaro: “By June, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide three major redistricting cases — out of Wisconsin, Maryland and Texas — that will lay some of the foundation for what the maps will look like, not just this year, but after the 2020 census that could affect control of Congress for the next decade.”

Democrats are convinced that activist judges can help them dominate gerrymandering into perpetuity. Courts are increasingly seen as willing policymakers by the left.

The Wall Street Journal, in a February 21 editorial, forecasts the ominous trend:

While the U.S. Supreme Court has held that partisan gerrymanders may violate the U.S. Constitution, it has been unable to articulate a precise legal standard. Democrats are now trying to tempt the Supreme Court into intervening in the intrinsically political redistricting process with social-science methodology that purportedly measures proper representation.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently not only was tempted, but defiantly struck down, with a 5-2 liberal majority, a Congressional map drawn by that state’s GOP legislature in 2011. “With the help of Stanford University law professor Nathan Persily they drafted their own new map (Feb. 19) for use in the May primaries after (Democrat) Governor (Tom Wolf) and the legislature failed to agree,” The Wall Street Journal explained.

And what does Pennsylvania portend? Writes the Journal editorial board:

Pennsylvania will be the future in every state if the Justices decide that judges should be redistricting kings.

 

 

A $5.7m windfall

Christmas is arriving early in 2018. About 11 months early, to be precise. On Thursday, January 25, North Carolina retirees began receiving their monthly state retirement benefit payments.

According to the office of North Carolina State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, payments to retirees have increased by a total of $5.7 million this month. The windfall was triggered by two developments. One is the very well publicized federal tax reform signed by President Donald Trump after Congressional Republicans came through with a bill late last year.

The other development flew under the radar. An obscure state entity, the Retirement Systems Division (RSD), simply did its job beating the clock on an IRS deadline that was set after Trump signed sweeping tax cuts into law.

Among those cuts are federal taxes deducted from 2018 benefit payments to North Carolina retirees and benefit recipients. The RSD Operations Team within the N.C. Department of State Treasurer was able to update the tables ahead of the IRS’s deadline.

“I’m very proud of our team for taking the initiative so quickly after the new tax law was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. While we are in the check delivery business, it involves more than just buying ink and stamps,” said Treasurer Folwell. “This is a testament to the outstanding job that our career public servants do to serve government workers.”

More than $500 million is paid out each month to more than 312,000 retirees and benefit recipients.

“Our team, led by Tom Causey and Susan Fordham, decided not to wait until February to enact this increase in our members’ benefit payments,” explained Steve Toole, Executive Director of RSD. “By updating these tax schedules sooner, our members will see larger January benefit payments.”

Betrayal

The assault on the presidency of Donald Trump began when a Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein (nominated by Trump), appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Special Counsel to investigate unsubstantiated allegations that Trump campaign surrogates colluded with the Russian government to influence American voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Thus began, as commentator Charles Krauthammer eloquently describes it, “an investigation in search of a crime.” Continue reading “Betrayal”

Activist judges draw red line

Thousands of North Carolinians will find themselves living in a new Congressional district as of Sept. 1. The deadline to redraw districts was imposed by three federal judges in a July 31 ruling that will inevitably drive campaign strategists crazy ahead of elections in 2018. More time will be spent on introducing voters to a new district; less time devoted to issues.

TheHill.com reports the order “impacts 28 of the state’s 170 General Assembly districts, which the court said last year discriminated against African-American voters by weakening their political power.” Continue reading “Activist judges draw red line”

Health-scare

It is easy to forget the overriding premise behind Obamacare: too many Americans were uninsured, unable to afford basic medical care and prescriptions. Obamacare was needed, its supporters said, because it would swiftly bring 30 million people into the rolls of the insured by making insurance affordable.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now understand that it never was about liberating those 30 million by granting them affordable insurance options. The heart of Obamacare was about providing more free insurance coverage by expanding Medicaid in the states through a massive federal entitlement. Continue reading “Health-scare”