Friday, June 30, 2023






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The 2024 race for N.C. governor has just gotten more interesting.

Michael R. Morgan, also known as "Mike" Morgan, one of two African American Democratic justices on the NC Supreme Court, is considering a run to become the state’s next governor after he steps down from the bench in coming months, according to the NC Insider state news service.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who cannot run for a third term, would appoint someone to serve out the rest of Morgan’s term should he step down before it officially ends in 2024.

If Justice Morgan were to win the 2024 Democratic gubernatorial primary, he would likely face Black conservative Republican, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, in the general election, setting up an historic battle for the Governor’s Mansion.

In his first state office race in 2016, Morgan defeated a Republican judicial incumbent and won his N.C. High Court seat by 2,157,927 votes, taking a majority of North Carolina counties, so he knows how to run in a statewide campaign.

He is one of several seasoned, well-qualified Black Democratic possible candidates for governor who could energize Black Democratic voters in 2024, first mentioned in a Black Press analysis published on June 2nd. 

In a June 28th phone interview with the NC Insider, the contents of which have been confirmed for this report, Justice Morgan, 67, said that when his term expires next year, he may very well enter the Democratic primary to challenge previously announced 2024 gubernatorial candidate state Attorney General Josh Stein.

Stein, who grew up in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, announced his candidacy early last January in hopes that no other Democrat would enter the race. Serving his second term as state Atty. General, Stein has strong support with white Democratic progressives, particularly those who are against the Republican-led legislature’s recent 12-week abortion restrictions.

Despite that support, Justice Morgan told the NC Insider that “…many inside North Carolina’s Democratic circles are calling on him to run in next year’s primary election.”

“I’ve been asked, quite frankly, to look at the race for governor,” Morgan said. “And while I highly respect the declared candidate (Stein) for the Democratic nomination for governor, I feel inclined to respect the calls that I’m getting.”

Morgan, who has been an associate justice of the state Supreme Court for the past seven years, continued that his final decision on whether to run or not would be based on what kind of support he can muster for a campaign.

“And, of course, whether I’d be able to raise the requisite funds in the requisite time to be a formidable candidate,” he said.

Morgan acknowledged that based on the support he hopes to get, his candidacy would make a difference.

I believe it would enhance the chances of the Democrats,” he told the NC Insider. “I believe that should I enter the race I would be a strong voice that would be in a position to not only be the best qualified for the position, but I would be in the best position to defeat the current leading Republican candidate. I would be able to concentrate on matters and articulate matters in a way that would be more convincing and more persuasive, to have the Democrats enjoy victory and to maintain the governor position.”

And if he were successful in a primary run against Stein, Justice Morgan made clear that he’s under no illusions as to who the Republican’s likely candidate, Mark Robinson, is, and the kind of controversial, right-wing rhetoric many say he represents.

“There are some disturbing voices that want to lead our state in a direction that’s backward, downward and wayward,” Morgan said. “... If I would decide to run, it would strengthen our party going forward to the 2024 race and it would strengthen our ability to keep the governorship in a responsible leader’s hands.”

There is still plenty of time for other Democrats to join the 2024 gubernatorial race, so anything can happen between now and the March 5, 2024 primary. In the meantime, Justice Morgan will have to retire from the state Supreme Court, put together a campaign team, and begin raising money for both a primary run, and possible November 2024 general election bid.

Also in that time, Morgan would have to decide how he would campaign against fellow Democrat Stein. Both men are accomplished attorneys who know how to frame effective legal arguments. But a Democratic primary would call on Morgan and Stein to attempt to fire up the Democratic base, meaning that they would have to learn how to perform outside of the legal setting, and be able speak plainly about the issues North Carolinians care about the most.

Supporters of Stein feel he can speak to the concerns women across the state have regarding their loss of abortion rights at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court and the NC General Assembly. Those supporters predict that women will drive the 2024 elections.

Justice Morgan may be able to tap into the tremendous outrage over last week’s consequential U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in college admissions, in addition to recent controversial decisions by the Republican-led NC Supreme Court, and the NC General Assembly’s restrictions on voting rights.

Both men could address standard concerns about the rising cost of living, the need for affordable housing and health care, and other standard campaign issues primary voters would care about.

The eldest of five children, Justice Morgan is a native of New Bern in Eastern North Carolina, where his late father, Leander "Lee" Morgan, Sr. - New Bern’s first Black mayor - was elected three times. His mother, Barbara Rivers Morgan, was the first  African American woman elected to the merged New Bern - Craven County School Board. 

 With a strong personal and professional history of achievement, Justice Morgan is an alumnus of Duke University and North Carolina Central University School of Law, and has served as an administrative law judge, a District Court judge in Wake County, and a Superior Court judge, before his Supreme Court election in 2016.

In that election, then Superior Court Judge Morgan defeated 16-year Republican Associate Justice Robert Edmunds with over 54 percent of the statewide vote, giving the seven-member state Supreme Court a Democratic majority for the first time since the 1998 elections.

With the incredibly good fortune to be the only person ever in NC to serve in four different judgeships over my 34 years of judicial service,  I shall not seek to be reelected in 2024 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina,” Justice Morgan said in a statement in May.

If Morgan were to succeed in winning the 2024 Democratic primary, he would likely face the most popular Republican gubernatorial candidate currently in Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. But Robinson will have to defeat two primary opponents first in state Treasurer Dale Folwell, and former Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker.

Robinson, a recent graduate of UNC-Greensboro, and best known for his fiery MAGA, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-abortion rights rhetoric, recently endorsed former Pres. Donald Trump for reelection. In turn, Trump has endorsed his candidacy, giving Robinson entree to Trump's MAGA supporters across the state.





By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Shortly after the conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court delivered its groundshaking 6-3 decision last week striking down racial affirmative action in college admissions policies at UNC-Chapel Hill and other predominately-white institutions across the nation, many African Americans on social media chimed in, “No problem. We’ll just send more of our kids to HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities)!”

Just one problem.That history-changing ruling isn’t going to stop with just college admissions. When those Black students graduate from HBCUs, they are going to need to find jobs in the public and private sector.

Last week’s affirmative action decision was narrowly tailored for academic admissions, so it can’t be used directly to govern employment, contractual or program situations.

But Forbes Magazine warned last week that “…the decision will have a “chilling effect” on businesses that will grow concerned about lawsuits against diverse hiring practices and initiatives to improve diversity.”

     Cedric Powell, a law professor at Howard University, told Newsweek Magazine, "There'll be implications in employment law. There'll be implications in other areas of education. There'll just be widespread implications.”

"One of the things the court does is plant little time bombs that will explode later on,"  Powell continued. "Today, we're ostensibly talking about education. But there is a spillover effect, for example, in government contract set-asides for minority businesses [because] they exclude whites who want to participate. It's an example of reverse discrimination. So we need to review and overturn all public contracts. Same thing with employment. A white plaintiff says, 'Well, yeah, I didn't get the job. You're considering race and that's reverse discrimination.' I see a whole onslaught of more emboldened plaintiffs articulating reverse discrimination claims."

Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of three liberal Supreme Court justices who defended affirmative action, confronted lawyers for opponents during arguments last October, saying, “If the court determines that any benefit or preference based on race is unconstitutional, the impact would radiate far beyond elite colleges…. the court could gut a half century of programs and laws designed to help groups that have historically faced racial discrimination in the U.S. that leveled the playing field, giving them greater access to education that might improve job opportunities and economic equality. At risk beyond preferences in college admissions: government programs that require a certain percentage of contracts go to minority-owned companies. Scholarships and financial aid based on race or ethnicity. Hiring practices at private companies aimed at recruiting underrepresented groups. Race-specific outreach by social services agencies. Even hate crime laws could be in peril.

According to the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, the day of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, “Assembly Speaker Robin Vos indicated Republicans will move to repeal state laws and programs based on race - including a state run scholarship  program for students of color.”

     What the Republican legislature in Milwaukee is just starting to do, GOP lawmakers in 

North Carolina began doing two years ago.

        In 2021, NC Senate leader Phil Berger introduced Senate Bill 729 - the Public Nondis-

crimination Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution to prohibit consideration of race, 

sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, public contracting and public education.

The bill was referred to committee, but never made it out to go for a final vote.

        NC Republicans could try again to pass it, and place the measure on a public referendum.

     A bipartisan bill (HB 833) to expand teaching opportunities for "male minority" teachers using state funds in North Carolina, could now be on the chopping block. Republican lawmakers have already outlawed the teaching of critical race theory (HB 324), only to have Gov. Roy Cooper veto the law. Now that they have a super-majority in both legislative chambers, they can try again and override.

        And last February, the Republican-led UNC Board of Governors voted to eliminate all diversity, equity and inclusion statements and compelled speech from admission, hiring, promotion and tenure in the UNC System.

Alvin Tillery Jr., a political science professor at Northwestern and director of its Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, told Newsweek,  "The same people, when they win this, they'll start suing companies for their supplier diversity programs, suing cities for programs that help minority businesses, suing to remove everything that acknowledges and seeks to help people of color."

Yahoo Finance reports, "Universities are likely to become less diverse over time, directly affecting the talent pool available to American businesses. Experts also say that the court could be receptive in the future to similar cases targeting race-based initiatives at private companies, with no shortage of cases attempting to erode race-based candidate considerations in corporate America.”

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayer, another of the High Court's dissenting liberals, made clear her dissatisfaction with last week's decision, writing in her opinion, “The Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter,” concluding her dissent by quoting civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Despite the Court’s unjustified exercise of power, the opinion today will serve only to highlight the Court’s own impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound. As has been the case before in the history of American democracy, ‘the arc of the moral universe’ will bend toward racial justice despite the Court’s efforts today to impede its progress.”



Sunday, June 25, 2023



                                                                 ATTY. IRV JOYNER




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The state NAACP has asked Republican legislative leaders not to pass Senate Bill 747 - “Election Law Changes” - a bill the civil rights organization says would hurt African American voters.

In a letter dated June 21st, 2023 from NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Deborah Dicks Maxwell and Attorney Irv Joyner, Legal Redress Chairman of the NAACP North Carolina, to NC House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, members of the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections, and members of the House Committee on Elections and Campaign Finance Reform, Maxwell and Joyner expressed “great concern about the discriminatory impact that Senate Bill 747 would have on Black and brown voters across the state of North Carolina.”

“However…” the NAACP-NC letter continued, “…what is most concerning is the cumulative impact that this deluge of changes to election law will have on those seeking to cast a ballot in 2023 and beyond, particularly Black and brown voters. This bill will make it harder for voters to cast a regular ballot and to have that ballot counted, and will also expose voters to new avenues through which they may be harassed or intimidated while doing so.”

The letter goes on to further outline the key areas of concern the NAACP -NC has with SB 747, namely that “it will disproportionately impact voters of color;” that the proposed changes to vote by mail “are unnecessary and discriminatory;” that the measure “will lead to an increase in voter intimidation;” and that the bill “guts the right of North Carolinians to utilize same-day registration.”

“In conclusion, the provisions described above in the current version of SB 747 will have a widespread disenfranchising effect, as North Carolinians seeking to exercise their sacred Constitutional right will be faced with a myriad of new barriers, some of which will unfortunately be insurmountable. These barriers will disproportionately impact Black voters and voters of color in this state. NAACP North Carolina respectfully requests that the House and the Senate vote no on this omnibus election bill and reject further efforts to abridge or deny the equal right to vote in North Carolina,” the letter maintained.

At press time Monday, June 26th, the state Senate had already passed SB 747, along with a companion measure SB 749 - “No Partisan Advantage in Elections” bill, which would change the number of partisan seats on the State Board of Elections to eight, making them equal (four Republican, four Democrat). Critics say in cases of a tie vote over election controversies, a gridlock would occur and remain unresolved.

The governor would have no appointment power.

Local election boards would only consist of four members -  two Republicans and two Democrats - with the same gridlock scenario playing out.

Republican leaders were slapping themselves on the back after passage of the two election changes bills.

“These two bills take bold steps to make certain that North Carolina’s elections are free from political interference and devoid of any mischief,’ said Sen, Paul Newton (R - Cabarrus), chairman of the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee.

Democrats blasted SB 747 and SB 749, alleging that both bills were designed to fool voters.

“Republican leadership in the General Assembly has once again introduced legislation to claw powers away from the governor and into their own hands,” House Democratic Leader Robert Reives  said. “S.B. 749 would, by design, lead to gridlock on elections boards and empower Republican-led courts to settle disputes.”

NC Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton said, “When the voters elected Governor Cooper twice, they did so with the expectation and desire that he would be making appointments to the Board of Elections — but we know the NCGOP’s playbook is to just change the rules instead of trying to win fair and square on the strength of their ideas.”


                                               LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON

                                                  SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK




By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Recently a political analysis was put forth suggesting that the candidacy of Black Republican Mark Robinson for North Carolina governor in 2024opened the door for Democrats to run a seasoned, well-qualified Black gubernatorial candidate as well who could go toe-to-toe with the controversial conservative and culture war provocateur.

Unlike the NCGOP, the North Carolina Democratic Party has a deep bench of qualified, talented, and experienced African American state office holders who could give Robinson a run for his money if given the solid backing and strong party support needed.

The problem, some political analysts say, is that the Democrats currently have just one candidate vying to go up against Robinson - state Attorney General Josh Stein - who deliberately announced his bid early back in January to ward off any other possible Democratic contenders.

If Stein doesn’t have a primary, he will inevitably go up against Robinson (currently favored to win his three-way GOP primary) without any real measure of being able to energize the critical base of the NC Democratic Party - Black voters - beforehand.

And without an energized Black voting base for 2024, Democrats can already start shoveling dirt on their chances of beating Robinson, or winning any other offices back from Republicans. The results of the 2022 midterm elections confirm that.

Indeed much of the 2022 midterm election turnout breakdown is coming into full focus now, and while it is clear that striking down of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court a year ago propelled angry Democrats to the polls in several states across the country in 2022, it did little to impact voting in North Carolina.

Not only did North Carolina not get a Democratic election bump in 2022, but there is documented evidence that Black voters actually stayed home, causing an overall Democratic election collapse.

Even though the number of eligible Black voters in the United States increased to 32.7 million by the 2022 elections according to the Pew Research Center, the New York Times released data in December 2022 that showed African American turnout was down in North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin and Louisiana, among other states.

Furthermore, the gap between Black and White voters in North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana, was the largest since the 2006 midterm elections. And all three states had Black candidates running for major offices, which observers first believed would help boost Black turnouts.

They didn’t, and Democrats lost.

The Brookings Institute compared the 2022 midterm turnout with the previous 2018 midterm turnout rates, and while it determined that 2022 nationally was almost as high as 2018 when Democrats were able to take back the U.S. House, “…the groups with the highest Democratic voting margins—in particular, young people, Black Americans, women, and white female college graduates—did not show greater turnout increases than other groups, and often displayed lower turnout rates than in the 2018 midterms.”

The Brookings analysis continued, “When looking at racial turnout levels within age groups, distinct declines are seen for Black and Latino or Hispanic 18- to 29-year-olds, as well as for Black 30- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 64-year-olds .”

Last December, CNN reported that there are some Democratic officials who are taking the 2022 drop in Black voter turnout seriously - saying “this is how we lose in 2024” -  and are pushing to do something about it before the upcoming presidential and gubernatorial election year.

Plans are already underway to expand for 2024 what was a $30 million Black voter outreach effort in the midterms at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, funding dedicated staff and targeted advertising, according to data provided by staff,” reported CNN.

But at the grassroots level, the reasons for African Americans not voting are very basic, others say.

“It’s antipathy,” Mondale Robinson, mayor of Enfield told CNN. “Black men hate the way the Democratic Party and politics overall plays out.” State Sen. Natalie Murdock (D - Durham) added that Black Democrats haven’t seen the change they've expected, so why bother.

        Just before the 2022 midterm elections, a poll by POLITICO-Morning Consult showed that"... just 25 percent of Black registered voters described themselves as “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this election, compared to about 37 percent of white voters and 35 percent of Hispanic voters."

There are some analysts, like Thomas Mills of the weekly political newsletter Politics NC, who question whether a strong Black Democrat could successfully defeat Mark Robinson, saying that the key to defeating Robinson in 2024 will be the female vote, energized by the new abortion restrictions the GOP-led NC General Assembly recently passed into law.

Mills is not alone in thinking that the restriction of abortion rights will be an effective weapon against Republicans overall. But would abortion restrictions energize Black urban and rural males to vote?

Not likely.

The model for a successful Black Democratic statewide candidacy to learn from, national Democrats are saying,  is the senatorial campaign of Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia.

Rev. Warnock was able to defeat a white Republican incumbent U.S. senator backed by then Pres. Donald Trump in a special election in January 2021, and then come back after a year to defeat former pro football great Herschel Walker, again backed by Trump, to retain his senatorial seat in 2022.

How did Rev. Warnock make history becoming the first Black Democrat to win a U.S. senatorial seat from Georgia? According to CNN, “His campaign heavily invested in direct voter outreach, among African-Americans, from an intense, in-person effort to knock on doors and connect with voters through conversations, to a closing ad which featured videos of voters reacting to clips of GOP nominee Herschel Walker speaking, ending with a gray haired Black man calling the comments “embarrassing,” in addition to building a broad coalition statewide.

Warnock also branded himself as a leader who delivers.

A seasoned, qualified Black NC Democrat can take a page from Rev. Warnock’s playbook, and document for all voters, but especially African American voters, how he or she has delivered through legislation.

The Warnock example, which could energize Black voters,  is such a glaring one for NC Democrats, especially in his race against popular football legend Herschel Walker.

The opportunity is there for NC Democrats.

The question is, will they take it?





Monday, June 19, 2023






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Last Sunday, while some were preparing to celebrate Juneteenth, and most were honoring Father’s Day, Bishop William J. Barber II, renowned minister and national civil rights leader, was retiring from the church he proudly pastored for the past 30 years - Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro.

Before a packed sanctuary, Bishop Barber, also the president of Repairers of the Breach and co-convener of the Poor People’s Campaign, delivered his last sermon before the congregation at Greenleaf entitled, “Would You Consider the Testimony of a Cripple About the Grace and Glory of GOD.”

“I have no reason to be standing here but by the grace of God,” he told the congregation and many visitors.

It was one of the rare times in public over the years that the former NC NAACP president publicly talked about his personal struggle with a unique form of arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine.

The disease has contributed to Bishop Barber’s large size, and inability to walk long distances without a cane. He told the church how he experienced serious bouts of depression earlier in his life, and was told by doctors that he might lose his ability to stand. That threatened the need for Bishop Barber to be able to stand in the pulpit to preach early in his ministry, and he prayed to GOD for the strength to overcome.

That strength came, later allowing Barber not only to preach, but to lead numerous Moral Monday and other demonstrations in the streets over the years regarding social justice issues.

His own life of physical struggle allows him to now bear witness that GOD doesn’t just use the strong, but also those who have suffered an affliction in life that by all accounts, should make them weak and useless.

“There is a thread throughout Scriptures, that GOD does His best work with cripples,” Bishop said, noting that the main characters in several books of the Bible are crippled or broken in some way, and yet become divine examples of GOD’a grace to inspire others.

Barber, 59, told congregants that it is no different today, and that even the best Christians are nothing without the grace of GOD.

The message was important because of Bishop Barber’s main mission in life now - to inspire, particularly young people of all colors and backgrounds, to pick up the mantle of social justice in this nation, and confront the ills that continue to plague the poor, and deny racial and gender justice to millions. Thus, Bishop Barber’s new role as founding director of the recently established Yale University Center for Public Theology and Public Policy.

“GOD’s grace and GOD’s glory is most evident when we are weak,” Bishop Barber preached, adding that in many cases, GOD’s greatest saints and servants are “crippled by design” in order for them to represent the grace of GOD “without arrogance.”

Bishop Barber counseled the congregants and visitors that they must come to terms with their personal state of being crippled, what is biblically known as “lo-debar,” be it emotional, physical or spiritual, and realize that only by serving GOD do they become strong, and spiritually whole.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to preach to you for 30 years, Greenleaf,” Bishop Barber told the church he’s called home since 1993.

While acknowledging the importance of Father’s Day, Bishop Barber also warned all about the commercial and national exploitation of Juneteenth - what was originally supposed to be the acknowledgment of how enslaved Africans in Galveston, Texas received word of the Emancipation Proclamation, the end of slavery, two years late.

While Juneteenth has traditionally been commemorated in Texas for many years, it became a federal holiday when Democrat Pres. Joe Biden came into office, and many states and municipalities, including North Carolina, decided to also recognize it.

Many critics, however, have been warning this year that the true meaning of Juneteenth has been lost amid the celebrations, parades, holiday and retail sale events.

Bishop Barber admonished his congregation not to be tricked, and that Juneteenth should be a time for refection and recommitment to the cause of freedom, and the end of present-day slavery.

As part of his retirement festivities, Bishop Barber was lauded at a local event in his honor on June 10, which was keynoted by MSNBC personality Joy Reid.

Pres. Joe Biden also sent a congratulatory video, and Vice President Kamala Harris a letter acknowledging Bishop Barber’a many years of civil rights and social activism.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The battle to restore the NC voting rights of former felons has now moved from the state Supreme Court to federal court. That’s because the 5-2 Republican majority ruled in April that over 55,000 former felons are not eligible to exercise their right to vote.

The Republican majority said the matter was simple - the ex-felons were prohibited by a NC statute, known as the “Strict Liability Voting Law,” originally enacted in 1877 with the explicit intent to disenfranchise Black voters, and reenacted in 1899 as part of a broader legislative attempt during the Jim Crow era to suppress the Black vote, from voting because the law is constitutional, the court said. So unless and until that law is struck down, those ex-felons will not be allowed to cast a ballot.

         Ex-felons must complete all requirements of their imprisonment, the GOP justices said, or they have no voting rights and are still felons.

The state High Court’s two Black Democrats vehemently disagreed.

The [court] majority’s decision in this case will one day be repudiated on two grounds, wrote Justice Anita Earls for the court’s minority. First, because it seeks to justify the denial of a basic human right to citizens and thereby perpetuates a vestige of slavery, and second, because the majority violates a basic tenant of appellate review by ignoring the facts as found by the trial court and substituting its own. 

Justice Earls continued, With regard to the first and most serious issue, the majority interprets the North Carolina Constitution to reduce the humanity of individuals convicted of felony offenses to the point of cruelty: People who are convicted of felony offenses are no longer people, they are felons. The majority believes that, as felons, they are not free even after their sentences are complete, they are merely felons for the rest of their lives.

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a nonprofit  legal advocacy group, agreed.    

         So last week, it filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the court to declare the NC law unconstitutional on Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

Their main argument - that it should not be illegal for ex-felons to vote “…while on parole, probation, or post-release supervision for a felony conviction, even if they mistakenly believe or are told in error by election workers or their parole officers that they are eligible to vote.”

They also argue that the law is not being fairly enforced by prosecutors.

While some prosecutors have charged individuals who mistakenly voted before completing their post- release supervision, others have declined to prosecute individuals where there was no evidence of intent,” the SCSJ motion states. 

“For over 120 years, the voices of North Carolinians who have been convicted of felony offenses, specifically Black North Carolinians, have been chilled by the selective and arbitrary enforcement of North Carolina’s strict liability voter prosecution law,” said Mitchell Brown, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights at SCSJ. “We hope that the Court rules in our favor, outlawing a racist, vague law that criminalizes mistakes and misunderstandings regarding voter eligibility by individuals with felony convictions who merely are trying to re-engage in the political process and perform their civic duty.”

The SCSJ brief examined why the law is unconstitutional:

         While only 22% of North Carolina’s citizens are Black, Black citizens represent                          63.6% of all cases investigated for potential violations of the Strict Liability Voting.    

 Law. between 2015-2022. The. NCSBE’s chief investigator acknowledged this

                disparity was “significant.”

Similarly, 56.3% of all cases referred for prosecution in 2015-2016 and 2018-2022 involved Black voters. In 2017, Black voters constituted 68% of the 441 cases investigated as a result of the 2016 general election audit, most of which were referred for potential prosecution.

Black citizens are also overrepresented in the NCSBE’s investigations compared to the overall percentage of Black inmates in state (50%) and federal (51%) prisons in North Carolina. Moreover, only about 40% of individuals on post-release supervision are Black.



Sunday, June 11, 2023


                                                             STATE SEN. DAN BLUE




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Now that Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto pen has been nullified, and the state Supreme Court has a 5-2 GOP majority, Republican legislative leaders are going nonstop with a political agenda they feel will entrench North Carolina for decades to come.

With literally nothing in the short term to stop them, Republicans are boldly pushing forward on significant changes to education, abortion rights and now, election reform.

For the past two weeks, various media outlets have been reporting, and in some cases, even warning, about Senate Bill 747, otherwise known as “Election Law Changes.” 

Distilled to its essence, the strategy is to make it harder for people who are expected to vote for progressive candidates to cast their vote,” writes Rob Schofield of NC Newsline about the bill.

Republicans counter that they are simply attempting to “… strengthen election laws [and] increase confidence in election administration.”

A look at some of SB747’s language tells the story.

All mail-in ballots will be required to be received by their respective county boards of elections no later than 7:30 p.m. on election day, or until polls are closed, be it a primary or general election. Failure to do so disqualifies that ballot from being counted.

This would do away with the current three-day grace period for mail-in ballots to arrive at county elections offices that are postmarked by that election day, adopted by the NC General Assembly in 2009 to guard against unforeseen delays in mail delivery.

Critics say if an elderly or afflicted voter can’t mail or get their ballot to their county elections office before or by election day, their otherwise valid vote will not be counted. That election day change could have a chilling effect on mail-in voters. 

"[W]hat will these Republican legislators force election workers to do with that ballot if it arrives the day after election day? Throw it in the trash?,” opined Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg). “It’s not trash. It’s a vote, and it should count.” 

New One Stop Early Voters are also facing an additional hurdle to their vote being counted.

According to the proposed SB747, “…an individual who is qualified to register to vote may register in person and then vote at a one-stop voting site in the individual's county of residence during the period for one-stop voting. However, the individual shall vote by provisional ballot...." meaning that their vote may or may not be counted and that provisional ballot will not count until the name and address of the One-Stop voter is verified by government document or first-class mail “…before the close of polls on Election Day.

Presently all a prospective One Stop Early voter who has to same-day register  is bring some form of official identification proving their name and address (a bill or bank notice) with them, and their ballot is automatically counted as valid on election day. No further verification needed.

There are several other changes to existing N.C. election laws that are proposed in SB747 as it makes its way through committees and to the floor at press time. But that isn’t stopping Democrats and critics from throwing everything but the rhetoric kitchen sink in its way to stop its progress.

“[R]epublicans at least come closer to admitting their overarching goal — denying the electoral rights of their enemies,” wrote columnist Law Professor Gene Nichol of UNC School of Law.

“Most of the massive alterations of North Carolina voting law enacted by Republican lawmakers over the last dozen years have been, the courts have explained, justified by lies,” Prof. Nichol continued. “The “monster voter ID” law of 2013 was said to be aimed at voter fraud and ballot accuracy. But judges found that legislators “could not conceal the state’s true motivation” — the desire to handicap Black voters.”

Republicans denied such allegations, but when Attorney Cleta Mitchell, who worked for former Pres. Donald Trump in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, was reported by WRAL-TV to have allegedly been involved in the drafting of SB747, it made GOP denials of their true intent that much harder for critics to swallow.

“This is just a raw effort to just dissuade people from voting,” declared Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue.

But this isn’t the end of it, Democrat Blue and others warn. Expect the new Republican legislative and congressional redistricting maps, due in a few weeks, to also be designed to maintain the NCGOP electoral advantage for many elections to come.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Rarely does news about Alabama put smiles on the faces of Black North Carolinians, especially when it involves the conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court. But last week was a definite exception.

By a 5-4 vote,  the high court ruled that Alabama’s Republican legislators must redraw the state’s voting districts so that Black voters are able to elect their own congressional representative. Instead of further diluting the 1965 Voting Rights Act, two conservative justices, Republican Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow conservative Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined the court’s liberal justices in finding that Alabama violated federal civil rights law by only drawing one majority-Black voting district out of seven statewide, even though African-Americans make up 27% of the state’s population.

That ruling has North Carolina political experts paying attention, particularly as it relates to the upcoming 2024 elections.

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is a victory for American democracy and voters everywhere,” said Bob Phillips, Executive Director of the non-partisan Common Cause North Carolina. “This decision should serve as a clear warning to North Carolina politicians that racist gerrymandering and attacks on voting rights will not stand.”

“Current anti-voter proposals in the North Carolina legislature – including NC Senate Bill 747 – would disproportionately harm people of color, “ Phillips continued. “And legislators are preparing for yet another round of redistricting that so often has targeted Black and brown voters through extreme gerrymandering.”

Phillips concluded, “North Carolina politicians should take note of today’s ruling and reject attempts to undermine voting rights. We must protect everyone’s freedom to vote.”

A lower federal court had ruled that Black voters in Alabama had been shortchanged by their GOP legislators, so having the conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court uphold the ruling was a surprise, a surprise that a Raleigh News & Observer editorial warned North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers to pay attention to when they redraw congressional voting districts in a few weeks.

“The court’s decision in Allen v. Milligan may limit how much North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers can dilute Black – read Democratic – voting power when they draw new districts for the 2024 election,” the N&O said.

The ruling “makes it likely that Republican state legislators will not attempt to draw new maps aimed at electing an 11-3 GOP majority in North Carolina’s [congressional] House seats.” 

“This ruling is a game changer for the overall picture in the (U.S.) House because it could affect what Republicans will try to do in North Carolina,” said David Wasserman, senior editor of The Cook Political Report.

In effect, while the Republican - led NC General Assembly is still free to redraw legislative voting districts per partisan gerrymandering, the Alabama decision reinforces the illegality of racial gerrymandering, thus closing what had been earlier seen as a possible loophole to redistricting if the Supreme Court had ruled otherwise.

        The surprise ruling also means that if Republicans in Congress were hoping to extend their majority in the U.S. House, they'll now have a harder time doing so.

So it remains to be seen how the GOP - led NC legislature interprets what leeway it now has in redrawing voting districts for 2024.