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Opinion Roundup: Breaking ranks on gerrymandering

Posted September 7

US Supreme Court

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on a GOP effort to end gerrymandering, a steep budget cut to the Affordable Care Act, a company in hot water over its alleged role in the GenX water pollution case and more.

ADAM LIPTAK: Prominent Republicans Urge Supreme Court to End Gerrymandering (New York Times analysis) -- Breaking ranks with many of their fellow Republicans, a group of prominent politicians filed briefs on Tuesday urging the Supreme Court to rule that extreme political gerrymandering violates the Constitution. These days, both parties are using their power more aggressively than ever, according to a brief filed by 65 current and former state legislators, 26 of them Republicans. “In recent years, the two major political parties, leveraging the technologies of the modern age, have intentionally and systematically excluded each other from state legislatures like never before,” the brief said. “Democrats rigged the maps in Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island, while Republicans did so in … Wisconsin … and North Carolina.”

RICK HANSEN: Full List of Amicus Briefs Supporting Challengers in Wisconsin Partisan Gerrymandering Case (Election Law blog) -- My list yesterday was partial. I believe this is the full list: Amicus Briefs in Support of Appellees.

MATTHEW BURNS: NC turns over some data to Trump voter fraud panel (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has supplied publicly available voter data to a commission set up by President Donald Trump to investigate voter fraud.

Ending DACA is wrong (Winston-Salem Journal) -- President Trump’s decision to end DACA in six months, announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, is neither practical nor right.

Confederate flag censorship teaches the wrong lessons (Wilson Times) -- To justify their bans, Durham, Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro rely on alarmism that would make Chicken Little blush. Their fabricated forecasts of school disruption are the very definition of “undifferentiated fear or apprehension.” Government censorship is a lesson unworthy of our public school scholars. Educators who believe the Confederate flag to be an outmoded symbol of slavery should use the controversy as a teachable moment. Debates are won through persuasion, not coercion.

CLYDE EDGERTON: UNC Civil Rights Center provides needed advocacy (Wilmington Star-News column) -- On Friday, the UNC System Board of Governors will decide if centers and institutes at the UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. Central law schools can continue to advocate for people who believe their rights have been violated but do not have the means to mount a challenge.

PETER BAKER, THOMAS KAPLAN & MICHAEL D. SHEAR: Trump Bypasses GOP to Strike Deal on Debt Limit and Harvey Aid (New York Times analysis) – President Trump struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday to increase the debt limit and finance the government until mid-December, blindsiding his own Republican allies as he reached across the aisle to resolve a major dispute for the first time since taking office. Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, expressed surprise at Mr. Trump’s action. “I’m still processing this, but my first instinct is I’m not very happy about it,” he said.

MYRON PITTS: The disagreement wasn’t disagreeable (Fayetteville Observer column) -- U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C. 9) dropped into Fayetteville City Hall last Thursday for a town hall. He had two others planned later the same day for Elizabethtown and Charlotte. As town halls go, it was good — but I like politics, so there’s something wrong with me from the get-go. It was my day off, actually. Pittenger is pretty far to the right, and I am not, to say the least. About the only thing we solidly agreed on was that the U.S. debt is too high and needs a bipartisan response and that hate is bad, no matter who is doing the hating. That said, I liked his way of engaging with constituents. He is a Trump guy but the polar opposite of Trump in terms of style.

KRISTIN PHILLIPS: ‘REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL,’ a mayoral candidate said on Facebook. It backfired. (Washington Post column) -- Kimberley Paige Barnette said she wants to discourage public assembly and suggested that poor people like to buy “expensive cars."

What will Asheville be when it grows up? (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- “Let’s remember Asheville died in the ’70s and was reborn,” said Weaverville resident Hobey Ford. “Controlled growth would be wiser, but at least our city is thriving.” The best way to keep it that way is for an involved citizenry to insist on a full airing of these and other issues by those seeking to govern the city.

RICHARD CARVER: WSSU economic center gains grant indirectly from Koch-affiliate groups (Winston-Salem Journal analysis) -- Winston-Salem State University’s new Center for the Study of Economic Mobility will be created using a $3 million grant funded through the conservative free-market groups Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries.

‘We only kill black people’? We need to talk (Charlotte Observer) -- Cobb County officer Greg Abbott says cops ‘only kill black people.’ That should prompt a deep discussion about police and race.

MIKE KERRIGAN: Let’s keep politics - and kneeling - out of football (Charlotte Observer column) -- Kneeling for the national anthem, as Colin Kaepernick and others have done, takes away from what the NFL offers us.

HEALTH
RACHEL BLUTH & PHIL GALWITZ: Trump Administration Chops Millions From Budget Used To Push Obamacare (N.C. Health News analysis) -- As the signup period for insurance available under the Affordable Care Act looms, administration officials cut outreach funds.​

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
TRAVIS FAIN: State issues notice of violation to Chemours (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The step, which some have been pushing Gov. Roy Cooper's Department of Environmental Quality to take for weeks, follows August testing in wells surrounding the Chemours facility showing GenX in nearby groundwater.

JENNIFER ALLEN: Beaufort OKs Watershed Restoration Plan (Coastal Review analysis) -- The town of Beaufort approved in August a watershed restoration plan that includes strategies to reduce polluted runoff and decrease localized flooding.

EDUCATION
COLE DITTMER: ECU’s youngest students ready for Lab School (EdNC column) -- East Carolina University’s youngest students got their first look inside the ECU Lab School during open house on Aug. 24. “I love it, everything,” exclaimed fourth-grader Breanna Daniels after seeing her new classroom. The scene was repeated over and over — families touring the school, students entering their classrooms wide-eyed and grinning, and all leaving hopeful for the year to come.

​AND MORE
Kate Millett, Influential Feminist Writer, Is Dead at 82 (New York Times obit) -- Kate Millett, whose 1970 book, “Sexual Politics,” made her, as one writer put it, “the principal theoretician of the women’s liberation movement,” and who went on to be a leading voice on human rights, mental health issues and more, died on Wednesday. She was 82. After teaching briefly at the University of North Carolina, she pursued her art career in Japan and then New York, where she took a job at Barnard College teaching English literature.

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