Democrats Want Republicans’ Help Even When They Don’t Need It, Both In Congress & The States
President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) continue to insist that they need Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) help to raise the debt limit, even though everyone can do the math and see that is not true. Still, Democrats remain desperate to get Republican support for raising the debt ceiling, despite the fact that they don’t need it. As this is happening, Democrats are also working to bar two Republican North Carolina Supreme Court justices from being allowed to rule on a legal challenge to two constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2018, even though Democrats already have enough justices on the bench to overturn them.
The legal challenge against two North Carolina voter approved constitutional amendments in NAACP v. Moore — one of which requires a photo ID to vote, while the other lowers the state’s constitutional income tax cap — is based on a controversial argument. The logic behind that argument is that, because the amendments were referred to the ballot by a General Assembly allegedly elected in gerrymandered districts, any measure referred to the ballot by that legislature, even if approve by voters, is illegitimate and therefore null and void.
A lower court in North Carolina sided with the plaintiffs, only to see that decision overruled by a state appellate court. The appellate court decided it was a bridge too far to overturn a vote of the people and retroactively declare an entire state legislature to be illegitimate. It’s worth keeping in mind that the case being made in NAACP v. Moore is unprecedented. Never before in U.S. history has an entire legislative body been declared unconstitutional. Never before in North Carolina history have duly passed constitutional amendments been declared invalid by a state court. Yet the ultimate fate of this important case will be decided by the North Carolina Supreme Court, which is comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans.
In a bold maneuver to ensure the North Carolina Supreme Court has a composition that will issue progressives’ desired ruling, plaintiffs in the case filed a motion in July to have two of the three Republican state supreme court justices recuse themselves and barred from ruling on the case. The plaintiffs claim that the two justices in question — Tamara Barringer and Phil Berger Jr. — cannot be allowed to rule on the case because the former was a legislator when the aforementioned constitutional amendments were approved in 2018 and the latter is the son of the Republican leader of the North Carolina Senate.
As the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted in its October 4 edition, “the public and the press were well aware of this high-profile case and the justices’ backgrounds when they were elected in 2020. Past service as a legislator is not normally disqualifying from hearing cases related to legislation passed during that service, and removing a judge at a ‘court of last resort’ requires a higher burden since that judge can’t be replaced.”
Yet, even if these two Republican judges do not recuse themselves from the case, there are still enough Democrats on the North Carolina Supreme Court to issue the ruling progressives want, which would undo the will of the people by overturning two 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendments. As with the debt ceiling debate in Washington, Democrats in Raleigh have the numbers to impose their preferred policy without Republican participation, but are still insisting on Republican assistance. In Washington, Democrats are demanding that Republicans vote for the debt ceiling increase even though Democrats have enough votes to do it alone through the budget reconciliation process. In Raleigh, Democrats are insisting that two Republican Supreme Court justices recuse themselves, all so one of their own can take a walk and vote against his Democratic colleagues.
Just as the Democratic-led Congress can raise the debt ceiling without any Republican support, Democratic members of the North Carolina Supreme Court have the ability to rule the way progressives want in NAACP v. Moore even with all three Republican justices ruling on the case. The reason that Democrats are insisting Republicans still help, in both of these cases, is to provide political cover for Democrats. While President Biden and Senator Majority Leader Schumer want Republican finger prints on the debt ceiling increase, North Carolina Democrats want Justices Barringer and Berger to recuse themselves from an important case so that one Democratic justice who is up for reelection soon can reject the plaintiffs’ argument while still allowing the court to overturn the two voter approved constitutional amendments.
“Democrats Anita Earls, Robin Hudson, and Mike Morgan would remove the GOP justices while potentially allowing Associate Justice Sam ‘Jimmy’ Ervin IV to vote against the move because he is the one Democrat currently on the court who will face re-election in 2022,” Dallas Woodhouse explains in the Carolina Journal.
“Hudson’s seat is also on the ballot, but she is expected to retire at the end of her current term,” Woodhouse added. “The same 3-2 vote would nullify the two constitutional amendments. Both of those amendments received more votes than any candidate on the ballot in 2018.”
Justices Barringer and Berger are not expected to recuse themselves from NAACP v. Moore. Yet there remains a possibility that Democratic members of the North Carolina Supreme Court will move to have their two Republican colleagues involuntarily recused from NAACP v. Moore. Such an act would be without precedent, as never in the more than 200 year history of the North Carolina Supreme Court has a justice been forcefully removed from a case. If that happens, Democrats will have used the courts to overturn constitutional amendments that were approved by 58% and 55% of the electorate, after having been referred to the ballot by a three-fifths supermajority of elected representatives. If Democrats are successful in pulling off this maneuver, sidelining two judges in order to overturn two constitutional amendments, they will effectively nullify more than 9 million combined votes over two election cycles. What’s ironic is that all of this is being carried out in the name of “defending democracy.”