Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: The bellwether for bitter politics

Posted June 20

Lawmakers poised to undercut Cooper, deliver boons to McCrory

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on North Carolina's role in our nation's political discourse, the Supreme Court's decision to take up partisan gerrymandering, the overturning of N.C.'s law barring sex offenders from social media and more.

JASON ZENGERLE: Is North Carolina the future of American politics? (New York Times analysis) -- Welcome to North Carolina circa 2017, where all the passions and pathologies of American politics writ large are played out writ small — and with even more intensity. Ever since 2010, when Republicans seized control of the General Assembly for the first time in a century, and especially since 2012, when they took the governor’s mansion, the state’s politics have been haywire.

BRENT KENDALL: Supreme Court to Consider Limits on Gerrymandering (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- The Supreme Court agreed to consider whether there are constitutional limits to how far lawmakers can go in drawing electoral districts to maximize partisan political advantage, a case that could have profound implications for U.S. elections.

JASON DEBRUYN: SCOTUS’ Partisan gerrymander decision will impact N.C. (WUNC-FM Analysis) -- The United States Supreme Court will decide if states may draw voting districts to gain a partisan advantage. The ruling is not expected until next year but will greatly impact North Carolina's voting districts, which are among the most severely gerrymandered in the country.

MICHAEL COOPER: Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S. (New York Times analysis) -- The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin is being closely watched in other states, including Pennsylvania, where a lawsuit is challenging the process that gave the state its so-called Goofy Kicking Donald Duck-shaped congressional district.

DAVID G. SAVAGE: Partisan gerrymandering is almost as old as America, but will the Supreme Court decide it has gone too far? (Los Angeles Times analysis) -- The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether partisan gerrymandering — in which voting districts are drawn to favor one party — is a time-honored American political tradition or has evolved into an unconstitutional rigging of elections.

Free Speech at the Supreme Court (New York Times) -- The Supreme Court reaffirmed core free-speech principles in two cases on Monday, both decided without dissent. It also took on a major case about partisan gerrymandering.

STUART BENJAMIN: What is the ‘do no harm’ position on the First Amendment in cyberspace? (Washington Post column) -- On Monday in Packingham v. North Carolina, the justices unanimously (minus Gorsuch) voted to invalidate a North Carolina statute making it a felony for a registered sex offender “to access a commercial social networking Web site where the sex offender knows that the site permits minor children to become members or to create or maintain personal Web pages.” But Justice Alito, joined by Roberts and Thomas, concurred only in the judgment. All eight Justices agreed that the statute wasn’t sufficiently tailored. Both opinions emphasized the possible application of the statute to Amazon.com, washingtonpost.com, and webmd.com.

MARK SHERMAN: Supreme Court strikes down sex offender social media ban (Los Angeles Times analysis) -- The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law Monday that bars convicted sex offenders from Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites. The justices ruled unanimously in favor of North Carolina resident Lester Packingham Jr.

BRENT KENDALL: Supreme Court Invalidates N.C. Law Barring Sex Offenders from Social Media (Wall Street Journal analysis) - The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that made it a crime for sex offenders to visit social media internet sites, ruling it an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

Sex offenders can be tracked online, but not banished (Wilson Times) -- Let the punishment fit the crime. That should be the takeaway following Monday’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling that struck down a North Carolina law banishing all registered sex offenders from all forms of social media.

GENE SMITH: Don’t just mock there, call a lawmaker (Fayetteville Observer column) -- There’s persistent talk about restoring “civility” to our nation’s ongoing conversation about itself. As near as I can tell, talk is about all we have to show for our efforts. Maybe that’s by some evil design, or maybe that’s just the way things worked out. Not the point. For the few who still think it’s worth pursuing, I have a suggestion — not a miracle cure, but a place to start: Let’s try to stop thinking and talking in shorthand.

ROSE HOBAN: Final 2017 Health and Human Services Budget – First Look (N.C. Health News analysis) - Late Monday evening, members of the General Assembly rolled out their final version of the 2019-20 budget, which includes some notable expansions in health and human services for the coming biennium. Probably the most HHS notable item in this year’s $23 billion budget document is $27 million in new funding to increase NC Pre-K slots for children who otherwise would be unable to attend preschool programs.

Keep guns from kids (Greensboro News & Record) -- After the third Tennessee child in the month of May was wounded by an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot, Beth Joslin Roth unloaded her frustration.

Preserve public notices (Winston-Salem Journal) -- An effort in the legislature, Senate Bill 343, would eventually eliminate the requirement that local governments publish legal notices of their affairs in newspapers. The state House should kill this bill pushed by Sen. Trudy Wade of Guilford County.

TRISTA TALTON: Topsail Dune Rule: Is Legislative Fix Possible? (Coastal Review analysis) -- Both sides in the ongoing battle over Topsail Beach’s repeal of its dune-protection ordinance agree that a related provision recently stripped from a pending House bill was too broad.

JESSIE POUNDS: First Lady Cooper talks food insecurity during High Point visit (Greensboro News & Record column) -- As breakfast winded down at Deep River Parks and Recreation Center in High Point on Monday, North Carolina first lady Kristin Cooper moved from table to table talking with children and asking their opinion about the food. Lunches? They’re about average, said Jaylen Carl, a rising sixth-grader who sounded happy about his experiences with the High Point Parks and Recreation camp so far.

When is it really safe to drink the water? (Fayetteville Observer) -- Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ... No, don’t cue the theme from “Jaws.” We’re talking about much smaller, quieter menaces lurking in the water of the Cape Fear River. But those threats to our health show us one good reason why it’s folly to dismantle the federal Environmental Protection Agency or to neuter this state’s environmental watchdogs.

The shunning of peaceful dissent (Charlotte Observer) -- NFL quarterback has been shunned for his protest, when we should encourage those who express disagreement without violence.


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