Redistricting in North Carolina: Democrats Find New Avenue of Attack Against Republicans

Redistricting in NC (flag pic)

by Diane Rufino, September 29, 2019

We’ve been hearing a lot about “redistricting” lately. In fact, we heard that a state court invalidated two of the popularly-mandated (that is, approved by voters in 2016) amendments to the state constitution (the one adding a photo ID requirement to vote and the other capping the state income tax at 7.5%) on the grounds that the bills giving rise to the amendments were the illegal products of an illegitimate NC General Assembly. The body was claimed to be “illegitimate” because several representatives were supposedly elected pursuant to improperly racially-gerrymandered district maps.

So what are we referring to when we talk about “redistricting”?

Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. Each of North Carolina’s 13 United States House representatives and 170 state legislators [120 for the House and 50 for the Senate] are elected from political divisions called districts. United States senators are not elected by districts, but by the states at large. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

I.  WHERE WE STAND (After Several Court Opinions) —

(1) On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause, finding that partisan gerrymandering claims, such as that made against North Carolina’s congressional district plan, present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. As part of its ruling, the high court overturned a district court ruling that had struck down the state’s congressional district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander. The case was remanded back to the state court system.

(2) On September 3, 2019, in the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, a state court struck down North Carolina’s legislative district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. Did you know that the state constitution requires districts to be drawn in a non-partisan manner? Clearly, those Democrats who were in power for over 110 years in the state, and who took their oaths to support the constitution, did not know it. Or if they did, they chose to violate those “apparent” provisions. Following the lead of a court in Pennsylvania which held that redistricting maps must be drawn on a non-partisan basis, the group Common Cause filed suit in North Carolina to challenge the 2017 redistricting maps drawn by a Republican-dominated General Assembly as being violative of the state constitution and its requirements for non-partisanship in elections.

Common Cause, a non-profit organization that claims to be “non-partisan,” was under the leadership of Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration and a rabid socialist, for 5 years – from 2013-2018.

Here are the state constitutional provisions that Common Cause referred to in their challenge to the 2017 redistricting maps:

The NC state constitution provides, in Article I (“Declaration of Rights”):

Article I, § 14 reads: “Freedom of Speech and Press. Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Speech” Clause of the NC state constitution].

Article I, § 12 reads: “Freedom of Assembly and Redress. The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.” [Referred to in court rulings and in this article as the “Freedom of Assembly” Clause of the NC state constitution].

The NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh agreed with Common Cause. In their unanimous conclusion, issued earlier this month on September 3, the 3-member panel of judges (Judges Paul Ridgway, Joseph Crosswhite, and Alma Hinton) wrote:

The Freedom of Speech Clause in Article I, § 14 of the North Carolina Constitution provides that “freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained.” The Freedom of Assembly Clause in Article I, § 12 provides, in relevant part, that “the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.” The 2017 Plans, therefore, violate the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and assembly, irrespective of whether the plans violate the U.S. Constitution. [pp. 317-318]

North Carolina’s Constitution Protects the Rights of Free Speech and Assembly Independently from the Federal Constitution. The NC Supreme Court has held that “in construing provisions of the Constitution of North Carolina is not bound by opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States construing even identical provisions in the Constitution of the United States.” The NC Supreme Court has further held that the North Carolina Constitution’s Free Speech Clause provides broader rights than does federal law. In particular, the Court has held that the North Carolina Constitution affords a direct cause of action for damages against government officers in their official capacity for speech violations, even though federal law does not. [pg. 318]

In 2017, the US Supreme Court wrote: “By packing and cracking Democratic voters to make it harder for them to translate votes into legislative seats, the 2017 Plans “single out a subset of messages for disfavor based on the views expressed. This is the essence of viewpoint discrimination.” Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744, 1766 (2017, Kennedy concurring). NC Republican legislators (defendants) drew the 2017 Plans in a way that deliberately minimized the effectiveness of the votes of citizens with whom they disagree (ie, Democrats).  [pg. 326]

Question: Isn’t the historically accepted exercise of re-districting by the political party in power to “minimize the effectiveness of votes cast by citizens with whom they disagree”?   I think everyone has come to accept this as the permissible consequence of election outcomes. “Elections have consequences.” How many times have we heard this? The Supreme Court itself has made this statement in its opinions.

In their opinion, and as they wrote, “it is the carefully-crafted maps, and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and, ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly.”

The judges concluded that the 2017 Redistricting Plan violate the Freedom of Speech and Assembly Clauses by discriminating on the basis of viewpoint. They went on to conclude that the Plans violate the Clauses for an independent reason. “In addition to forbidding discrimination, those clauses also bar retaliation based on protected speech and expression.” [pg. 329]. Furthermore, they concluded that “partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable under the North Carolina Constitution” (pg. 341).

They ultimately concluded and ruled: “There is no reasonable doubt the 2017 House and Senate Plans are unconstitutional under the North Carolina Constitution, and the Court enjoins their use in the 2020 primary and general elections…..” (pg. 347)

The ruling went on to require:

“The Court will require that Remedial Maps for the House and Senate legislative district maps for the 2020 election (hereinafter “Remedial Maps”) be drawn (within 2 weeks), and that the Remedial Maps comply with the criteria adopted by the General Assembly’s House and Senate Redistricting Committees on August 10, 2017, with several exceptions, including the following:

(1) In redrawing the relevant districts in the Remedial Maps, the invalidated 2017 districts may not be used as a starting point for drawing new districts.

(2) “Election Data” criteria shall not be permitted in the drafting of the Remedial Maps. In other words, partisan considerations and election results data shall not be used in the drawing of legislative districts in the Remedial Maps. The Court likewise will prohibit any intentional attempt to favor voters or candidates of one political party.

(3) The Court will require Legislative Defendants and their agents to conduct the entire remedial process in full public view. At a minimum, that would require all map drawing to occur at public hearings, with any relevant computer screen visible to legislators and public observers. Given what transpired in 2017, the Court will prohibit Legislative Defendants (ie, Republican legislators) and their agents from undertaking any steps to draw or revise the new districts outside of public view.”

**** Reference::  Opinion of the NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, Raleigh (September 3, 2019), which is 348 pages in length – https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

The new maps were drawn up on September 17. They were reviewed and ratified by a court-appointed referee the same day. The non-partisan house legislative plan and map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan and map was ratified as S.B. 692.

(3) North Carolina’s House of Representatives comprises 120 districts; North Carolina’s State Senate comprises 50 districts. The responsibility for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines lies with the state legislature (NC General Assembly). District maps cannot be vetoed by the governor.

II.  THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR DRAWING UP DISTRICT MAPS FOR ELECTIONS 

As we all know, there are two general types of elections in our country – federal elections and state elections. The US Constitution and federal law provide the legal guidelines and requirements for drawing up districts for federal elections (ie, for US congressional districts). The state constitution and state laws provide the legal guidelines and requirements for state elections (for state house and senate districts).

A.  FEDERAL ELECTIONS & FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

According to Article I, Section 4 of the US Constitution, the states and their legislatures have primary authority in determining the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections. Congress may also pass laws regulating congressional elections.

The US Constitution provides:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Snators.” [Article I, Section 4]

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. There are 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Each state is allotted a portion of these seats based on the size of its population relative to the other states. Consequently, a state may gain seats in the House if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states.

In 1964, the US Supreme Court ruled in Wesberry v. Sanders that the populations of House districts must be equal “as nearly as practicable.” This is where we get the general rule “One Person, One Vote.” In fact, the equal population requirement for congressional districts is strict. Any district with more or fewer people than the average, representing even a 1 percent deviation, will most likely be unconstitutional.

B.  STATE LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING —

The US Constitution is silent on the issue of state legislative redistricting. However, in the mid-1960s, the US Supreme Court issued a series of rulings in an effort to clarify standards for state legislative redistricting. In Reynolds v. Sims, the court ruled that “the Equal Protection Clause [of the 14th Amendment] demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens, of all places as well as of all races.”

The following is a list of recent redistricting bills that have been introduced in or passed by the North Carolina state legislature.

NC H717 – Judicial Elections Changes. “An Act to revise the judicial divisions; to make certain adjustments to the assignment of counties to the superior court, district court, and prosecutorial districts; to clarify listing of judicial seats on the ballot; and to limit rotation of superior… “ 6/28/2018: Ch. SL 2018-121

NC S209 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process……”   6/21/2018: Re-ref Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H927 – 2017 House Redistricting Plan A2. “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina house of representatives…..” 8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-208

NC S691 – 2017 Senate Floor Redistricting Plan (4th Ed.) “An Act to realign the districts for the election of the members of the North Carolina Senate…..”   8/31/2017: Ch. SL 2017-207

NC S692 – Adjourn August Redistricting Session & Reconvene. “A JOINT RESOLUTION adjourning the session reconvened pursuant to Section 2.1 of Resolution 2017-12, as amended by resolution 2017-14, and further amending RESOLUTION 2017-12.”   8/31/2017: Ch. Res 2017-15

NC H677 – Amend Who Can Serve on Three-Judge Panel. “An Act to provide that district court judges may be appointed to serve on three-judge panels for actions challenging the validity of Acts of the General Assembly…..” 4/21/2017: Passed 1st Reading

NC H735 – Redistricting by Computer. “An Act to amend the North Carolina constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission to redistrict via computer software programs utilizing politically neutral criteria to district….. “   4/13/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H674 – Independent Redistricting Commission. “An Act to amend the constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission…..” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC H714 – Fair Redistricting Study Committee. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting……” 4/11/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

NC S554 – Fair Redistricting/Postmark & Absentee Ballots. “An Act to create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Fair Redistricting and to provide that absentee ballots received by a county board of elections by mail on the day after the election that are not postmarked are deemed to have been postmarked……” 4/3/2017: Ref To Com On Rules and Operations of the Senate

NC H200 – Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission. “An Act to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process…..” 2/28/2017: Ref To Com On Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

Up until the case Common Cause v. David Lewis, no mention had been made of any state constitutional requirements to the process of state legislative redistricting. Litigation using this approach is just another desperate act of a dying political party to protect any power possible at the ballot box (power denied to Republicans for over 110 years). The Common Cause case, being unanimous in its opinion, opens a whole new line of litigation in the national battle over partisan gerrymanders.

Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause of North Carolina had this to say about the court ruling: “The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.”

Here is an interesting question: If the NC state constitution requires non-partisan state legislative districts, as Common Cause and Democrats allege, why did the NC General Assembly feel the need to pass the 2017 law, NC H674. NC H674 (“Independent Redistricting Commission”) was intended to amend the NC constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission in order to guide the Senate Redistricting Committee in designing redistricting plans to ensure they are as non-partisan as possible.

III.  THE STATUS OF NC HOUSE and SENATE REMEDIAL DISTRICT MAPS —

Pursuant to the Common Cause v. David Lewis ruling of September 3 and its order to draw up new, non-partisan maps, the NC General Assembly, under the watchful eye and subject to approval of a court-appointed referee, adopted remedial maps on September 17. The non-partisan house legislative plan/map was ratified as H.B. 1020 and the non-partisan senate legislative plan/map was ratified as S.B. 692.

Republican leaders declined to challenge and appeal the ruling.

Speaking for the Republican members of the General Assembly, Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement to Charlotte-based station WBTV: “The decision contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent…. Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point. It’s time to move on. To end this matter once and for all, we will follow the court’s instruction and move forward with adoption of a nonpartisan map.”

The reason for the decision not to challenge the ruling may be two-fold: First, under the new maps, the Republican party will continue to control a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly. And second, if Republicans had decided to appeal, there is really a good chance that the ruling would stand, given that Democrats control North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

Voters are urged to contact their county Boards of Election, or to review the maps provided by the General Assembly (online, see the Reference section for the links) to confirm which state districts they have been assigned to for the 2020 primaries and the 2020 general election.

IV.  POTENTIAL LEGAL CHALLENGE to the VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1965 —

I think the climate is ripe for a legal challenge to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Essentially, Section 2 mandates that district lines cannot be drawn in such a manner as to “improperly dilute minorities’ voting power.”

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 reads:

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

In 1982, Congress examined the history of litigation under Section 2 since the bill’s passage and concluded that Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the result of denying a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

First of all, the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague, and has been so, under our political system. The truth is that African-Americans have been, and continue to be, almost completely identified with the Democratic Party. It is said that approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party, if not higher. And so I say that the language of Section 2 is constitutionally vague because it assumes that any standard, practice, or procedure related to voting that affects African-Americans does so specifically and only because of the color of their skin. It makes no room for the possibility that a particular law, practice, procedure, standard, etc that affects them has the goal of addressing a political party or political views, just as it would affect others of the same political persuasion, and NOT to affect them because of their skin color. A “just” law must make room for legitimate reasons for its passage.

And so, I believe Section 2 should be amended accordingly.

Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the primary or sole purpose, as well as the intended objective, to deny a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Second of all, Section 2 provides a strong incentive to perpetuate racial stereotypes and racial victimization (ie, the “race card”) in voting.

Third, it offers a tremendous legal protection to the Democratic Party.

Here is my concern. The Voting Rights Act was drafted and passed to protect the voting rights of African-Americans. This was the piece of legislation specifically designed to address the many violations of African-American voting rights, as recognized and secured by the 15th Amendment. In fact, in 1980, the Supreme Court held that Section 2, as originally enacted by Congress in 1964, was a restatement of the protections afforded by the 15th amendment. [See Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980)]. Under that standard, a plaintiff had to prove that the standard, practice, or procedure was enacted or maintained, at least in part, by an invidious purpose.

As mentioned earlier, at least approximately 90% of African-Americans identify with the Democratic Party. So in effect, because Section 2 protects African-Americans unconditionally, it protects the interests of the Democratic Party outright. Now, the over-all goal of re-districting, at least in our current time, is NOT to suppress black voting OR to give blacks special protection. It is race-neutral. It is concerned with party affiliation only. Only a moron would think otherwise. Yet that’s the position that Democrats and African-Americans routinely take. They take the position not because they know it to be true but because it’s politically expedient. They know that race matters; they know that racial challenges are taken seriously. They know that lawyers being turned out of today’s liberal law schools are indoctrinated in social justice and see it everywhere – even when it doesn’t exist. The true goal of re-districting is to draw up district maps in a way that favors the election of the reigning political party. “Elections Have Consequences.” Maps can be re-drawn by Republicans to disfavor registered Democrats and to favor Republicans, and that would theoretically be allowed. Similarly, if Democrats have the majority in General Assembly, they too can re-district to favor their party. And they have, when they were in power. This practice has been an accepted one since the end of the 1700’s.

But look at the situation through the lens of Section 2. If Republicans re-district and the group of voters (registered Democrats) affected happen to be white, then no harm no foul. The re-districting is permissible. The disgruntled white Democrats have no recourse. But if those same registered Democrats just happen to have black skin, then it’s a whole different ballgame, right? Suddenly they have a cause of action under Section 2. They immediately have a cause of action. They can sue the government body; they can challenge the restricted maps as being impermissible gerrymandering, And chances are that they will be successful in court.

But the truth is this: Republicans are not looking at skin color at all – only political party affiliation. Democrats are Democrats. A white vote for a Democratic candidate is no different from a black vote for a Democratic candidate. And so Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, although passed for an honorable and a neutral purpose, as applied since the 1960s it is a strong legal tool that benefits only one political party – the Democratic Party. And so it is used exactly as such – as a legal tool to advance party interests.

Regarding Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, I believe it is ripe for a legal challenge. In the alternative, the US Congress can alter its language, as suggested above. The purpose of the challenge or the amending of language must be to get rid of Section 2 as a political tool of the Democratic Party and to get rid of the baseless claims made for no other reason than to undermine the Republican Party or to perpetuate the false notion that racism exists insidiously in our country today.

 

References:

“Redistricting in North Carolina,” Ballotpedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_North_Carolina

Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019), Supreme Court Opinion. Referenced at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-422_9ol1.pdf

Case Review, Rucho v. Common Cause (decision: June 27, 2019). Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Rucho_v._Common_Cause

Rucho v. Common Cause (August 27, 2018), ruling from the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (lower federal court). Referenced at: https://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/MDNC-Opinion.pdf

Common Cause v. David Lewis (judgement, Sept. 3, 2019), NC General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division – Wake County. Court ruling referenced at:  https://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/athena/files/2019/09/03/5d6ec7bee4b0cdfe0576ee09.pdf

Brennan Center for Justice, “A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting,” Brennan Center for Justice. Referenced at: http://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/CGR%20Reprint%20Single%20Page.pdf

“Redistricting Cases Heard by the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ballopedia. Referenced at: https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_cases_heard_by_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States

House Bill 1020 (H.B. 1020), “2019 House Remedial Plan.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at: https://ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/H1020

Remedial House Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6558/0/HB%201020,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20HB%201020%202nd%20Edition

Senate Bill 692 (S.B. 692), “2019 Senate Consensus Nonpartisan Map.” (Ratified Sept. 17, 2019). Referenced at:  https://ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/Senate/PDF/S692v4.pdf

Remedial Senate Map (Non-Partisan Map) of Sept. 17, 2019 – https://webservices.ncleg.net/ViewBillDocument/2019/6583/0/SB%20692,%202nd%20Edition%20-%20Senate%20Consensus%20Nonpartisan%20Map%20v3_11x17

 

APPENDIX I: GERRYMANDERING

The term “Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to favor one political party, individual, or constituency over another. When used in a rhetorical manner by opponents of a particular district map, the term has a negative connotation but does not necessarily address the legality of a challenged map. The term can also be used in legal documents; in this context, the term describes redistricting practices that violate federal or state laws.

The phrase “Racial Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district lines to dilute the voting power of racial minority groups. Federal law prohibits racial gerrymandering and establishes that, to combat this practice and to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, states and jurisdictions can create majority-minority electoral districts. A majority-minority district is one in which a racial group or groups comprise a majority of the district’s populations. Racial gerrymandering and majority-minority districts are discussed in greater detail in this article.

The phrase “Partisan Gerrymandering” refers to the practice of drawing electoral district maps with the intention of favoring one political party over another. In contrast with racial gerrymandering, on which the Supreme Court of the United States has issued rulings in the past affirming that such practices violate federal law, the high court had not, as of November 2017, issued a ruling establishing clear precedent on the question of partisan gerrymandering. Although the court has granted in past cases that partisan gerrymandering can violate the United States Constitution, it has never adopted a standard for identifying or measuring partisan gerrymanders.

There is more information on Gerrymandering at this link – https://ballotpedia.org/Gerrymandering#Partisan_gerrymandering

I Voted

- 00000000000000000000000 (Voted, July 2019)

by Diane Rufino, July 3, 2019

I voted today.

It’s been a frustrating special election season. Tempers have flared, ambitions have run high, and friends have turned on each other. I’ve heard all kinds of reasons and justifications for why people are voting for the candidate they have chosen. We all are entitled to our choice of candidate for office, of course. After all, we all have our reasons for our vote and we all have our own criteria for an acceptable candidate. Some, like myself, put country first and its health and longevity, as well as the security of our essential liberties (which is tied to less government and less government regulation and intrusion into state and local matters). Some, like myself, set high standards for an acceptable candidate. Character flaws only manifest themselves later in ways that dishonor and disappoint us, the citizens. Some, like myself, do my homework on the candidates. I consider it my civic duty. I look at the candidates’ history and their record, if they have one. I look at the values that guide them and try to assess if they are strong enough to constrain them and to strengthen them, as the particular situation would require.

Others are content to vote for a candidate without having any idea of his or her record or his or her history. Being a strong conservative isn’t important to them. Being able to trust that person to make the right decisions and cast the right votes when no eyes are on him/her in Congress doesn’t matter. They come up with ridiculous justifications for their campaign, such as “So-and-so is the only candidate strong enough to beat Allen Thomas. Otherwise, we’ll lose the district to a Democrat” What they mean to say is that they are unwilling to fight for the BEST candidate.

The best, the honest, and the most responsible vote is one cast after looking closely at ALL the candidates, doing the due diligence, looking at records and history, assessing credibility and honesty, and judging them side-by-side according to the criteria that one deems most important to being a representative in DC.

I can sleep soundly tonight knowing that I did all that. I can sleep soundly, feeling confident in my vote, knowing that I cast it for all the right reasons.

Open Letter to NC Governor Pat McCrory thanking him for his Support and Defense of HB2 (“Public Facilities Privacy & Safety Act”)

Pat McCrory

by Diane Rufino

Governor Pat McCrory
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

Dear Governor McCrory,

I am writing with a heartfelt THANK YOU for standing for common sense, standing for the constitutional protections of privacy, and perhaps most of all, for standing with conviction and exemplifying the courage one rarely sees in a politician these days. I am, of course, referring to your readiness and willingness to address the bathroom ordinance passed by the Charlotte legislature and pass HB2.

I know you and the entire state of North Carolina is coming under attack from the liberals for your stance in this matter. I know that the mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee, has banned flights for city employees from SF to North Carolina in protest, as did the mayors of NYC and Seattle. I know that New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has also banned non-essential flights to North Carolina for state employees in protest over the bill. And Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy have done the same. I know that director Rob Reiner has called for a boycott among filmmakers not to film in our state until HB2 is repealed. Wow, the wave of intolerance is strong. But waves that crash on rock do no damage and cause no erosion.

The point is that none of these individuals live in our state and how dare they try to engage in coercion to change our laws and policies. Decisions that affect the day-to-day conditions of our lives here in our own state should rightfully be made by us who live here, and by our representatives. And other states ought to respect those decisions. It’s one of the hallmarks of a federation of sovereign states. Let’s not forget that in 1973, when California legalized marijuana, North Carolina didn’t issue any boycotts in protest. In fact, there were no boycotts at all issued by states who did not agree with California’s decision. North Carolina and other states respected California’s right. And recently when California enacted an extreme gun control law, again North Carolina stood silent. North Carolina, a state that has a deep respect and affection for our Bill of Rights and especially for the big daddy of them all, the second amendment, could have easily acted in protest.

I know that our state Attorney General, Roy Cooper, an avowed liberal who believes strongly in gay marriage, not only refused to enforce the state constitutional amendment that passed overwhelmingly in our state defining marriage as between a man and a woman but now refuses to enforce HB2. He has publicly called our state an “embarrassment.” The truth is that HE, a man elected as Attorney General to defend the laws of the state who has not done so, taking an oath to perform the duties of that office yet violating it over and over again, taking a paycheck while he has essentially done nothing in performance of the duties of his office, and then turning his back on the great majority of the North Carolinians is the real definition of an embarrassment. Roy Cooper is an embarrassment to the state and to the government of this state. Why is this man still in office and why does he continue to collect a paycheck? Where are the articles of impeachment to remove him and give us a vacant office (pretty much what it is with him IN IT). The people of the state are entitled to a public servant that carries out his or her function. Governor McCrory, you were right when you said that Mr. Roy Cooper was elected to do a job and that “he is an attorney first and a politician second.”

Hypocritically, Cooper and his kind want to force OTHER officials into doing their job – such as issue marriage licenses to homosexuals, despite political and religious differences – but as for themselves, they believe they can refuse to carry out their elected responsibilities for the same reasons.

The bottom line is that the people expect their laws to be defended and someone will need to take this one on, with all the energy, sincerity, legal know-how, and passion that it takes.

We face an uphill battle in trying to remain a normal state with normal, natural-law values and trying to fight off the degenerate policies of liberals and progressives (and the LGBT community) who would love to see the entire country become like the biblical dens of iniquity, Sodom and Gomorrah. Biological confusion, biological rejection, massive sexual experimentation, and the unfettered personal freedom to live life as one sees fit without regard to boundaries, natural or social…. These are the goals of the progressives and liberals. By-products of such lifestyles are just collateral damage that we must all live with. But certain things are worth fighting for because the society that results is the one that will prove most successful.

The condemnation and the protests….. these will pass. If we don’t start standing up issue by issue, then North Carolina becomes no better than places like San Francisco and New York City, and neither place provides the safety and comfort needed to encourage and embrace family values and all the wonderful things that come with the proper focus on the family. Governor McCrory, you are doing a wonderful job in sticking up for HB2 and explaining it truthfully and fairly. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest is also doing an outstanding job defending it.

You mentioned that other states and some politicians are calling our state an embarrassment. I contend that when such states and when such politicians attack our policies, then we should be consoled in the fact that we are doing the right thing. North Carolina is NOT California. North Carolina is NOT New York. North Carolina is NOT Vermont. North Carolina is NOT Washington. North Carolinians have different values than San Franciscans. North Carolinians have different values than New Yorkers. There are communities of people all across this country defined by the values they embrace and wish to live by. And they are entitled to live by, as long as they don’t discriminate in violation of the long-settled principles solidified in our Constitution. How have we as a body of people been allowed to tolerate bathroom facilities separating on account of biological gender differences all these great many years? Clearly there have been no constitutional violations. A one-size-fits-all society is not what we want in this country. We want differences so that people, as diverse as we are, can find the place – using our constitutionally protected ability to be mobile – that allows us to live as faithfully and as comfortably with respect to our values. People forced to live in a changing environment where they must hide their values, apologize for them, be ashamed of them, and worse, live in contradiction to them are people ripe for discontent and hatred. A state that respects the values embraced by nature, that stands up for the values that promote wholesome family and gender values, a state respects the voice of the majority of its people (so that the minority cannot force their demands on others who are not ready for them), that refuses to engage in the type of cultural transformation of places like San Francisco and others that put individuality and selfishness before proper guidelines, embedded in natural law, for the good of society and its bedrock foundation, and that does not back down from the bullies of this country…… is NOT an embarrassment. It is an example.

As an attorney, I agree with your assessment of HB2. It is a common-sense bill that invokes no constitutional protection for the groups that are attacking it. The bill protects men, women, and children when they use restrooms, lockers, and showers. Individuals have a basic expectation of privacy in these areas. In fact, I would argue that there is a heightened expectation of privacy in these areas. Individuals have a right not to feel uncomfortable, traumatized, nervous, or scared when they enter a bathroom for biological purposes. They have a right to feel protected when they shed their clothing in locker rooms and in shower areas. The bill protects the elderly and the young who are most vulnerable to intimidation and fear. They are the ones who most assuredly need protection. Governor, you are correct when you say that this right must be protected and secured. If the very governing body of a state cannot protect a child or a grandmother in an area traditionally set aside for only members of society biologically identical to them, sharing similar concerns, functions, and risks, then that governing body should dissolve in favor of one that is able to protect its citizens.

A doctor who operates on a male (regardless of his “identification”) will need certain operating implements and gadgets to do the job. Just because that person may “identify” as another gender does not somehow change the reality that physically there are differences that require separate attention.

HB2 requires that requires that public bathrooms or changing facilities (locker rooms and/or showers) to be designated for and only those persons based on their biological sex; that is, the sex identified on their birth certificate. This bill only reasserts the status quo. It makes sure that the current situation – the one that has existed for over one hundred years – continues to remain as such. Without this bill and having the possibility of other cities and towns adopting the radical plan put forth by the Charlotte legislature, would expose the overwhelming majority of people to traumatization in an area that they should feel most comfortable.

Last year started a movement to demonize the Confederate flag and in fact, all symbols and names that are associated with the antebellum South and the Civil War. [I’m referring to the movement that was independent of the flag’s removal from the state capitol in SC]. All of a sudden, the flag and all such symbols, monuments, historical figures, street names, etc were deemed to only have ONE meaning, and that meaning was one of hatred. I watched and read time after time as a mayor or town official, or college student, or African-American citizen cried “trauma” and “discomfort” at having to lay his or her eyes on the flag, a monument, a street sign, a building name, etc etc. I imagined them convulsing, vomiting, and having to be hospitalized with live-giving fluids delivered to their failing veins. But no, they were healthy as can be. They were just exercising a misguided freedom to personally feel shielded from a message they didn’t care to see. Now, most of these individuals, of course (and clearly) have no clue about history. But governing body after governing body gave in. The right of one person not to be traumatized was treated as paramount to the overwhelming majority of people to embrace or be reminded of the history of our country.

I see this as an analogy, to some degree. We must respect the right of biologically-oriented people NOT to feel traumatized when they use a public restroom, locker room, or shower. This is simply common sense. Imagine the trauma and confusion that a young child will suffer? A young girl is taught not to talk to a stranger that is of a different sex. A young girl is taught that there are differences between herself and someone like her daddy. We teach our children about the proper roles they are to assume in the school system (because, after all, a boy who dares put his arm around a girl simply to show affection can be sent home with a charge of assault) and the role that gender plays in society and in rightful expectations. What about the parent who is trying to teach her child about biology and nature and the natural order of life? How can a child reconcile what she NEEDS to learn (for her safety and protection) with what she might confront in a public bathroom? What about the trauma a grandmother will feel? The fear as well?

There are reports all over the internet of assaults, rapes, videoing, and uncomfortable situations when men “pretending” to be gender-confused go into a women’s bathroom. All one needs to do is simply research them. It is far too easy for a male to pretend to be gender-confused to gain entry into a woman’s bathroom in order to do something that is less than legitimate or legal. He can film what he sees (and there are very secret ways to do that) or he can force himself on unsuspecting females. He can also rob them because they have let their guard down or because they are temporarily away from their purse, their mace, and their purchases. [Jay Delancy of the Voter Integrity Project, has posted several of these incidents, for example]. The only conceivable scenario where a male should be allowed to enter a women’s restroom, locker room, and shower is when he has been surgically altered and is on hormone therapy to officially change his gender. That is the only REAL way to “identify” as a woman. That would provide the only reasonable confidence to show that the person identifies as a woman and that the associated intent is there.

Finally, should bathrooms become open to individuals of a different biological identity, I believe patrons will not want to use the restroom lest they be made to feel uncomfortable. I have been in a public bathroom in a mall that was marked “Ladies” and watched as a male emerged from one of the stalls. There was nothing about the individual to comfort the women and teen girls in the bathroom that he/she was “identifying” as a female. All we knew was that he was a male, looked like a male, was zipping up his pants as he walked out of the stall, and he was in the women’s room. It was unsettling and my daughters and I immediately left. We felt uncomfortable and uneasy. We should have never been put in that situation. We opted to leave the mall and go somewhere else to get a bite to eat so that we could eventually take care of nature (take care of business) in a more private setting. I believe patrons will wait to go home to use the restroom and they will use the food court areas less frequently so as not to have to use the restrooms. Hence, their time in malls, etc will be shortened. Eventually, with policies as the LGBT desire and as the progressives and liberals who support the Charlotte initiative desire, people will begin retreating into their own homes or the homes and meeting places of people they feel comfortable with and reverse discrimination will tacitly result. Such policies will have a disparate impact on those who believe in a rightful expectation of privacy and who believe that nature, after all, is the immutable basis for life.

In addition to the provisions related to public/education bathroom, locker, and shower facilities, I want to thank you for the provisions added to the bill which protect business owners/government sub-contractors from the coercion of local laws which they ordinarily would not have to be subject to. The pre-emption provisions – pre-emption from – the pre-emption of local laws that expand the categories of non-discrimination to “sexual orientation” – are the icing on the wonderful cake that is HB2. I truly believe you showed your commitment and respect to the business community by: (1) recognizing and emphasizing that HB2 does not affect them and they are free to handle the bathroom situation as they see fit; and (2) making sure they are not subject to local laws that force them to participate in speech with which they do not believe (which underscores the rights recognized in the First Amendment – speech, religion, conscience). The guarantees protected under the First Amendment are firmly-rooted in our history and in our collective conscious and government law (including state) must not force businesses, small or large, or sole proprietors to participate in events or promote an agenda which violate their deeply-held beliefs and their collective conscience. Such a law is a dangerous violation of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion and they certainly threaten businesses just as acutely as issues such as discrimination and the failure to provide bathroom accessibility to transgenders. Even more telling is what such a law says about our treasured freedoms. It sends a message to the world that we aren’t the nation that we claim to be. Hypocrisy may work for others but it shouldn’t be an accusation that attaches to the state of North Carolina.

Thank you again in joining with the NC General Assembly and standing together in a courageous moment of clarity and allegiance to the good people of the state and signing HB2 into law. This mother, parent, attorney, school teacher, and someday soon – grandmother wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and respect. Please, please, please continue to stand firm in the wake of the growing opposition and demonization of our state with respect to HB2.

Most Sincerely,

References:
Language of Bill — http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v1.pdf (“Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act”)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjyHBZTkGZA (In this video, Governor Pat McCrory explains and supports HB2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvOjfj82ymE (In  his video, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest clarifies the mistruths about HB2 to the commentators on CNBC.  He then expresses his support and defends why the bill needed to be passed)

RESOLUTION PROPOSING TO ELIMINATE ARTICLE 1, SECTION 4 (“SECESSION PROHIBITED”) FROM THE NC STATE CONSTITUTION

Written and Proposed by Diane Rufino

RESOLUTION TO REMOVE ARTICLE I: SECTION 4 from the NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION

This is a resolution to propose that Article I, Section 4 be removed from the NC state constitution, in part to acknowledge that the federal government unconstitutionally required the provision and in part to reassert state sovereignty

Whereas, Article I, Section 4 of the NC state constitution reads:  “Sec. 4.  Secession prohibited. This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation; there is no right on the part of this State to secede; and all attempts, from whatever source or upon whatever pretext, to dissolve this Union or to sever this Nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.”;

Whereas, in 1865, under orders from President Abraham Lincoln, North Carolina’s provisional governor, William W. Holden, called a convention to write a new constitution for the state and to submit it to the US Congress for approval as one of the preconditions for re-admission into the Union. Two requirements for re-admission were the ratification of the 13th amendment (to reject slavery) and a provision in the state constitution rejecting the right of secession;

Whereas, North Carolina was put in a seriously compromising position whereby she had no representation in the US Congress but would continue to be governed by its laws and policies.  Re-admission would allow representation;

Whereas, in order to be admitted back into the Union, the provision “secession prohibited” was included in the state constitution,

Whereas, the provision was added against the will of the people (the new constitution was rejected in a popular vote) and hence undemocratic;

Whereas, the US promises a republican form of government in every state (one of the very reasons Lincoln felt justified in waging the Civil War);

Whereas, the provision was added under coercion (and amounts to a “forced confession”);

Whereas, the provision is a badge of shame; it attaches a stigma to the state and the people of North Carolina as a result of being defeated and plundered by the North in the Civil War;

Whereas, the provision continues to punish North Carolina for daring to side with her neighbors in 1861 rather than invade and wage war against them.  [After seven states had already seceded, Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, sent a telegram to NC Gov. Ellis telling him that North Carolina would be expected to furnish two regiments to make war on the seceded States. The governor closed his refusal with these words: “I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.”];

Whereas, North Carolina had no intention of seceding UNTIL it became clear that she would be required to wage war against her sister southern states (the states she had more in common with), and hence was coerced into secession. [In 1861, after her neighbors had already taken action, NC sounded rejected a convention to vote on secession];

Whereas, while North Carolina voted against a convention and rejected secession, it never gave up its belief in two principles: first, that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land pursuant to the express delegations of power held therein, that those express delegations define the extent of its powers with each state holding reserve sovereign powers (tenth amendment), and that the Federal government could not force one State to fight another;

Whereas, after the Civil War was concluded, the US Constitution was never altered to redefine the relationship of the States to the federal government, and thus, the states continued to retain all its reserved rights of state sovereignty under the tenth amendment;

Whereas, the Preamble to the Bill of Rights continues to emphasize how important each of the rights and privileges expressed in the first ten amendments in the establishment of the Union, the design of government, and the harmony of our federation (united states).  [”The Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution”];

Whereas, secession is an inherent right under a state’s sovereign powers, pursuant it its right of self-determination and self-preservation;

Whereas, secession is a fundamental right embodied in the Declaration of Independence [Under the Treaty of Paris, 1783, King George III acknowledged that the state of North Carolina, a sovereign state, had seceded from Great Britain];

Whereas, the right of secession being fundamental and inalienable, it can never limited by the federal government in any way, including by hiding behind the Constitution;

Whereas, the provision amounts to a forced denial of North Carolina’s fundamental right of sovereignty;

Whereas, the provision continues to punish the state for daring to remain loyal to founding principles of sovereignty;

Whereas, the provision acts as a badge of shame;

Whereas, the state of North Carolina, while recognizing all of the above as true, has no intention of abandoning its fellow states and leaving the Union.

Therefore, be it Resolved, that the People of the State of North Carolina demand that Article I, Section 4 be removed from the state constitution.

NC Flag