We send representatives to Raleigh to pass laws. Whether we like these laws or not is a moot point, for now; what matters is that we all agree that the primary purpose for a lawmaker is to actually make laws.
We all do still agree on this, don’t we?
And if we agree on this, we should also agree that, as of late, our state legislature sucks at it.
Last week, another effort by our General Assembly got bounced back by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — the very same court that nullified the marriage amendment to our state constitution in 2014.
This go-round the court found that our massive election law — the most restrictive in the country — which among other things curtailed early voting days and required an ID to exercise the most basic right of our republic, systemically targeted African-American voters and actively worked to reduce their input into the election.
Seriously: Before writing the bill, North Carolina lawmakers had a report made up of weaknesses in the African-American voting game and then crafted the law to exploit those weaknesses, like a really good game plan. Only in this case, the judges’ opinion called it “one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”
It’s the third piece of major legislation — along with the marriage amendment and a Congressional redistricting map — that has been overturned since 2014. HB2 could soon make four.
And it makes us the fourth state to have our voter ID laws scrapped: The Fifth Circuit overturned Texas’ law last month, while a county judge in Kansas reinstated the votes of about 50,000 voters and a federal judge in Wisconsin upheld portions of the voter ID bill but ordered the state to issue free identification to those who lacked it.
As it turns out, you really can’t do that to people.
Meanwhile, in our state, we’ve already held a primary under these false pretenses, and our lawmakers — many of whom, it should be noted, are lawyers — have spent a term or two getting these illegal laws passed. And our real problems such as hunger, joblessness and lack of industry continue to go unaddressed.
So, to reiterate: We send our reps to Raleigh to make laws, but not the kind that don’t stand up in court.