EDITORIAL: In NC amendments, a bad idea gets worse

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The North Carolina Legislature got called back for yet another surprise emergency session, this time to name the six — six! — constitutional amendments the Republicans coaxed onto the November ballot.

A reminder: Voter ID, capping income tax at 7 percent, an amorphous hunting and fishing amendment, taking away the governor’s power to appoint judges, merging the ethics and elections boards and one that increases the rights of victims of crime.

It’s never good when the legislature brings everybody back for an emergency session. This is how we got HB2, remember. But quibbling with the nuances of each proposed amendment, could take up an entire issue of this paper — and indeed, the volume of legislation dropped into the voters’ laps is but one indicator of the bad governance at work here.

Clearly, most of these amendments were designed to bring the red-meat Republicans out at a time when each of their votes are sorely needed to maintain the GOP’s chokehold in Raleigh. Voter ID is a dog-whistle for the politics of exclusion, even though it has been ably demonstrated that the measure is a solution in search of a problem. The crime-victims amendment exploits racial tropes and allows anyone who opposes it to appear soft on crime during campaign season. The right of North Carolinians to hunt and fish has never been questioned.

If the right people respond to these messages, the rest of the amendments — call them “wish list” items — should slip through like the last few participants in a conga line.

To call it a farce would be an understatement.

The political malpractice here is procedural. The proposed amendments were tacked on at the end of the short session, ramrodded through and were created with so little thought put into them that they have literally not been written yet.

But the tragedy is one of missed opportunity.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the North Carolina Constitution, a document initially created after the Civil War by white, landed men before women could vote and blacks were considered second-class citizens. But a constitution cannot be written by voters. And the rewrite needs to be looking forward, not backward.

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