Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: A day of reckoning for partisan gerrymandering

Posted September 30

Dozens of people ran through Raleigh on Saturday for a fun run in an effort to end partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina. Photo by James DeAlto

Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the Supreme Court's upcoming review of partisan gerrymandering, a verdict in one of Western North Carolina's biggest fires, a new set of research on rural hospitals' struggles and more.

BRENT KENDALL & JESS BRAVIN: Gerrymandering, a Tradition as Old as the Republic, Faces a Reckoning (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments as to whether the contorted voting maps drawn by both parties to cement their power have finally gone too far. Up for challenge is a Wisconsin legislative map.

MADELINE MARSHALL: Is Gerrymandering Bad for Democracy? (Wall Street Journal video) --A Supreme Court case on gerrymandering — the practice of drawing district boundaries for political advantage — could reshape the country’s political landscape. Critics say the partisan redistricting undermines representative democracy.

Can the Supreme Court Fix American Politics? (New York Times) -- Donald Trump was right: America’s political system is rigged. It’s rigged by politicians who try to keep themselves, and their party, in power by redrawing the geographical boundaries for legislative seats in the states and in Congress. They can be very open about doing this. In North Carolina, where the statewide vote is often close, a Republican lawmaker was asked why the G.O.P.-led Legislature drew district maps that gave Republicans 10 congressional districts and Democrats only three. He responded, “Because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

LAURA LESLIE: Courts Commission tells lawmakers to stay judicial redistricting (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The North Carolina Courts Commission told lawmakers to put off plans to overhaul the state's Superior Court, District Court and prosecutorial districts until next year.

MATTHEW BURNS: Voided Wake school board, commissioner districts to cost state, county (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina and the Wake County Board of Elections are on the hook for more than $400,000 in legal fees and other court costs racked up by voters who successfully challenged district maps for the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.

Tax overhaul plan is short on details (Greensboro News & Record) -- President Trump says his tax plan makes everyone a winner.

TAYLOR BATTEN: Just how much should we criticize Trump? (Charlotte Observer column) -- Donald Trump deserves criticism, but at one point do people stop listening?

DAVID PETRI: True respect for the flag (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Our nation seems to be divided over professional football players kneeling during the national anthem. As a Navy veteran, I feel obligated to address the hypocrisy of those angered by an act of free speech. Football players kneeling during the anthem is no different than the athletes who wrap themselves with the U.S. flag during the Olympics -- both are disrespectful as well as expressions of speech.

MICHAEL SOKOLOVE: For Trump, a Different Kind of ‘Locker Room Talk’ (New York Times column) -- So what happened last weekend in the National Football League? Well, the trickle of N.F.L. players who had been kneeling during the playing of the national anthem turned into a deluge. The uprise in protest is, first off, a function of athletes being driven nearly crazy by President Trump, which makes them no different than about half of America. The N.F.L. is a majority-black league. Its players have been angered by the spate of police shootings of unarmed black men; enraged by President Trump’s remarks following the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va.; and insulted after he called the players kneeling for the anthem “sons of bitches.”

DOUG FEINBERG: S.C. Women's Hoops Coach: No White House Invite (AP analysis) -- Dawn Staley and her champion South Carolina Gamecocks are still waiting for their invite to the White House. "We haven't gotten an invitation yet and that in itself speaks volumes," the women's basketball coach said. "We won before those other teams won their championships. I don't know what else has to happen."

BOB BROWN: The college sports charade (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Haven’t we had enough of the charade we call college sports and the façade of the student athlete to finally say enough already! Big schools make big money fielding winning teams. Gambling on college sports supports huge legal and illegal gambling industries. Advertisers and broadcasters make huge sums of money promoting their brands and everything else they can sell while broadcasting these events. Yet we continue to pretend that college sports are somehow more pure​.

TAFT WIREBACK: Legal notices bill stirs new controversy (Greensboro News & Record analysis) -- A bill aimed at bypassing newspaper publication of legal notices seems sure to come up next week in the North Carolina General Assembly, apparently with great likelihood it would be enacted as a new law applying only to Guilford County.

KATE O’KEEFFE: N.C. Lawmaker Takes On Chinese Investments in U.S. (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- Rep. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.) is the most prominent voice against Chinese-backed investments in the U.S., including the planned sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange.

Verdict is a reminder of fire danger (Hendersonville Times-News) -- News that a teenager received a suspended sentence for causing one of the biggest wildfires to scorch Western North Carolina last fall is a reminder of the danger of being negligent with fire.

KATIE ONHEIBER: Conserving Carolina’s Trail Crew builds, maintains sustainable trails (Hendersonville Times-News) -- Every morning, Cathy Cooper’s alarm wakes her to the eastern sun’s warm glow rising above the Appalachians. She greets each day by taking her shepherd mix, Maddie, up the one-mile trail to the top of Bearwallow Mountain. From there, she is able to gaze out at the wide expanse of rolling mountains fading away into the horizon.

GENE SMITH: There’s nothing like a good fall to pick you up (Fayetteville Observer column) -- More and more shafts of sunlight spear the wall of growth behind the back yard as Polo and I make the morning rounds. That’s good. It means that plants, most of them perennial nuisances like me, are dropping leaves and settling back onto their roots in anticipation of the big chill ahead.

TAYLOR KNOPF: Rural Hospitals in Financial Distress (N.C. Health News analysis) -- About 40 percent of rural hospitals in the United States are operating in the red and at-risk of financial distress or worse, closure.

STUART FERGUSON: Biltmore, A Carolina Xanadu (Wall Street Journal book review) -- Much of Denise Kiernan’s narrative, naturally, focuses on George Vanderbilt and his pursuit of an extravagant dream: to own a country estate worthy of Gilded Age royalty. But the book also shows how, after his death, his widow managed both to keep Biltmore going (if on a reduced scale) and to raise their intelligent if fun-loving daughter. Ms. Kiernan’s research is prodigious.


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