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A busy Supreme Court week
Two rulings dominate North Carolina politics — but only one of them will have much of an immediate effect
Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings dominated North Carolina’s political news last week, though one was much more significant than the other.
The first came in the Moore v. Harper case, which deals with the role state courts can take in the electoral redistricting process. I broke down the full case in an article last October when the arguments were presented.
The Supreme Court basically took the middle-of-the-road path that I predicted — brushing aside the “independent state legislature” theory that never really stood a chance of being embraced. I’m not convinced that the General Assembly ever thought it had a shot, either.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court opinion refused to take any stance at all on whether the Democrat-majority N.C. Supreme Court overstepped its authority in essentially drawing its own maps for a Congressional election.
Setting guardrails for what’s appropriate and not appropriate for a judiciary to do is, in my mind, the much more interesting constitutional question — and we got no clarity on the matter. Partially because of that, but mostly because of the change in composition of the state Supreme Court, this decision has no real bearing on North Carolina politics.
The second ruling, however, is likely to have some immediate effects. I’m referring to the UNC admissions case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court went with a bolder opinion that essentially strikes down affirmative action across the country.
Last fall, I wrote about how UNC currently uses race in admissions.
This is now illegal, so North Carolina universities will have to change how they admit students in a major way. The UNC administration put out a statement that it will follow the court’s guidance and remove race from consideration in admissions.
However, it is unclear exactly what the impact will be. Will the racial makeup of the next UNC freshman class be radically different from how it’s been over the past decade or so? If so, how will the university respond?
Expect the aftermath of this ruling to be a major political issue over the next two or three years.
Catch up quick
N.C. House sets record for most veto overrides in one day
The state House pushed six bills into law over the governor’s objection in a single day last week, setting a N.C. record for most veto overrides in one day.
Notably, a growing number of Democrats are willing to go against the governor’s wishes. For most of Gov. Roy Cooper’s term, veto override votes have been strictly along party lines. But the farm bill, for example, had six Democrats who voted in favor of the override.
North Carolina’s medical marijuana bill appears to be dead
Most people thought this would be the year North Carolina approved medical marijuana. But it now appears that the bill is dead, and may not even come up for a vote in the state House after passing the Senate earlier this year.
Axios Raleigh’s Lucille Sherman tweeted that her sources say the bill is “highly unlikely” to move any further after failing to get support in the House Republican caucus. The apparent change of heart follows a pretty aggressive messaging campaign against the bill.
But the issue won’t go away quietly. Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican. and the chief advocate for medical marijuana, pushed through an amendment to a random, unrelated bill that says it cannot go into effect until his medical marijuana bill gets passed. It’s unclear whether Sen. Rabon will try to play hardball on bills of more consequence, or if this was just a one-off petty fight.
Supreme Court Justice Morgan considers run for governor
A retiring Democratic member of the N.C. Supreme Court says he is considering a run for governor in 2024, challenging Attorney General Josh Stein.
Justice Michael Morgan told the N&O that he believes he is the best qualified for the position, but also that he would be able to match up better against presumptive Republican nominee Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
Both Robinson and Morgan are black and both have incredibly compelling personal narratives. When he was in fifth grade, Morgan became the first black student in his New Bern elementary school and was one of five black students to integrate the area’s public school system. Morgan would be able to tell his life story on the campaign trail in a way Stein simply can’t.
Parents Bill of Rights bill goes to the governor
One of the top conservative priorities for this legislative session, the Parents Bill of Rights, has finally made its way through the General Assembly and now faces an almost certain veto from Gov. Roy Cooper.
We broke down in depth what this bill does when it was introduced.
Worth your time
Ann Helms at WFAE has a very interesting investigation into sketchy private schools that have apparently received state Opportunity Scholarship money. While this doesn’t detract from the program’s overwhelming success story, it certainly appears that the state needs to take a closer look at how it vets private schools that qualify for vouchers.
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