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Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Freedom sans democracy

by Tom Sullivan

As I was saying: they want to rule.

When news came over the transom yesterday that NC Governor Roy Cooper had appointed Judge John Arrowood to the NC state Court of Appeals, the occasion for it and the context was a bit lacking. Think Progress provides some:

On Friday, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the latest power grab by the North Carolina legislature: an attempt to reduce the number of judges on the state’s Court of Appeals to prevent Cooper from appointing judges to it.

GOP legislators haves enough votes in the legislature to override a veto. But even if they do, a Republican judge just retired early in an attempt to thwart the “court unpacking” scheme.

Judge Douglas McCullough faced the mandatory retirement age next month, but he instead resigned early, allowing Gov. Cooper to appoint a younger judge to replace him. If Judge McCullough had stayed and the court unpacking bill became law, then the governor would not have been able to replace Judge McCullough next month. Gov. Cooper appointed Judge John Arrowood, the first openly gay member of the court of appeals.
McCullough is a Republican.

“I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on,” McCullough said in a statement.

Think Progress continues:
Ever since the state’s voters elected Cooper and a newly-liberal state supreme court in 2016, the gerrymandered state legislature has passed a series of bills to limit the powers of the other branches of government.

The legislature has passed bills that curb the governor’s authority to appoint justices to empty seats on trial courts and specialized courts. The legislature even considered a bill to gerrymander judges in Charlotte in ways that could make it harder for African American judges there to keep their seats.
The Charlotte Observer provides more:
Republicans in the legislature have said the court should shrink to match what they have described as a reduced workload for the appeals court. McCullough said the statistical information the lawmakers have relied on is inaccurate and incomplete.

McCullough, while stressing that he was honored to serve on the bench, recalled a time when Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican, was in the executive office and the Democrats at the helm of the General Assembly “did not interfere with his power to make appointments to the judiciary.”
For all the "freedom fries" this and "Freedom Caucus" that and liberty (like Lubbock) on everything, there is not a lot of respect for the institutions of democracy across the aisle. Even with all the power Republicans now have in Washington and in legislatures across the country, it's not enough to assuage their internalized sense of grievance. They need to rule the way Trump the Insecure needs to be praised. They'll twist themselves and the law into pretzels to ensure they do.

In a Twitter thread last night, Chris Hayes focused on conservtive obsession with campus controversies: "You'd think liberals arts undergrads had the nuclear codes," Hayes continued.

A senior contributor at The Federalist replied that her concern over education is what the future may bring if "the next generation is not built for freedom," whatever in the world that means. Mandy Patinkin has a famous rejoinder for that.

It's not only Sen. Mitch McConnell and his merry band of SCOTUS seat thieves as transparent as the emperor's clothes. In North Carolina and other states where Republicans dominate the legislatures — and I choose that term deliberately — it is increasingly clear that elected Republicans have no use for democracy nor for the normal processes of governing when they cannot control the outcome. No amount of blathering about freedom can conceal that.