When does partisan gerrymandering cross the line?

OPINION — “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Republican member of the North Carolina general assembly’s redistricting committee. “So, I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”

He added: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”

If that is not quite a smoking gun, it’s definitely toasty to the touch.

Will quotes like that — transparently revealing the politics behind a policy that favors one party — be enough for the Supreme Court to meddle in the political maneuvering of partisan gerrymandering? This week’s hearings take on a North Carolina case and its mirror in Maryland, where Democrats are accused of skewing a district.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in NC Gerrymandering Case

CHARLOTTE, NC — Both Republicans and Democrats do it, that is, draw voting district maps that advantages their side when they have the power, in order to stay in power. But with data, research and computer mapping, it is more possible than ever for politicians to choose their voters, rather than the other way around. In cases from North Carolina and Maryland, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether the practice of partisan gerrymandering has gone too far

GOP greets North Carolina election scandal with crickets, excuses and misdirection

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — America might know the name of the next president before voters in North Carolina’s 9th District have a representative in the House.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But one sure thing is that Mark Harris, the Republican who thought he won last fall, attended an orientation for new members of Congress and was picking out an office — won’t be the new congressman. He cited health reasons in taking himself out of the race that has no end in sight.

If She Didn’t Give Up on Democracy, Neither Should We

OPINION — If you don’t know Rosanell Eaton’s name, it’s time to learn exactly who she was and why her life and life’s work matters. She is the antidote to the cynicism infecting politics in 2018, a hero of democracy when democracy is under siege. She cared about her country and its highest principles, demanded her basic human and civil rights and brought others along with her.

Rosanell Eaton would not take “no” for an answer.

Her 97 years of life were full of the kind of accomplishments and resistance that truly make America great. We can mourn Eaton, who died on Saturday, and then honor her by following her example.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Rae Carruth Released; Early Voting Numbers Up; Trump Visits CLT

On this edition of the Charlotte Talkslocal news roundup…

After nearly 2 decades behind bars for conspiracy to murder, former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth is a free man. We’ll talk about his release this past Monday.

Electric scooters are back in the news as city council decides against local regulation of the scooters to increase safety, and instead are waiting to see what the state legislature does about the issue.

President Trump is set to visit the Queen City on Friday- he’ll be at Bojangles’ Coliseum campaigning for Mark Harris. We’ll look ahead to that visit, which might bring traffic tie-ups to town.

And the Mega Millions finally had a winning ticket for the $1.6 billion prize, and it was sold in South Carolina.

Join host Mike Collins for those stories, an update on the suburban charter school conversation for area suburbs and much more with our roundtable of reporters on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

Guests:

Alex OlginWFAE Reporter

Erik Spanberg, senior staff writer for the Charlotte Business Journal 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB-TV

Joe Bruno, city/ county government reporter for WSOC-TV

One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated?

OPINION — I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference.

I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected.

Mine is not a controversial stand — in fact, it’s patriotic. You would think our country’s leaders, without regard to party or politics, would be on my side.

You would be wrong.

Opinion: Dems to African-American Women: This Time We Mean It

So why was Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, making an appearance at this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, an event known for its high-powered mix of music, culture and empowerment, geared to engage black women globally? Did he see and enjoy “Girls Trip,” the 2017 mega-hit about the reunion of four black female buddies, set against the backdrop of the festival, and decide to get in on the fun, maybe take in a Janet Jackson concert?

Or was he connecting with his party’s most loyal base, which has carried the electoral load for years, and has also expressed dissatisfaction when that contribution was downplayed or overlooked?

Opinion: Supreme Court Resurrects the ‘Purge,’ and McConnell Saw It Coming

It was a brilliant and, opponents would say, devious move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stall, obstruct and block President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court replacement for the late Antonin Scalia.

That pick, Judge Merrick Garland, once a thoroughly acceptable and moderate choice to many Republicans, never had a chance in a ramped-up partisan atmosphere. Instead, the next president, Donald Trump, appointed conservative Neil Gorsuch, with immediate and long-lasting repercussions, this week reaching into the voting booth.

By a 5-4 vote in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the conservatives on the court reaffirmed an Ohio law an appeals court had rejected as being a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which says states cannot purge voters for failing to vote but can figure out how to remove those who have moved or died from the list. The state — a crucial battleground — has a particularly stringent test, using failure to vote in a single federal election cycle as the trigger to start the process.

Opinion: Putin’s Job Is Easy When Americans Do It for Him

Russian president Vladimir Putin easily cruised to a fourth term this past weekend, surprising absolutely no one. The only nail-biters were how many people would head to the polls — always unpredictable when the victor is certain — and how completely Putin would trounce the token opposition. Now, presumably, the newly re-elected leader can turn his attention to meddling in elections in other countries.

Speaking of the United States, while both Democrats and Republicans would prefer a little more predictability in the November midterms, if not Russian-style oversight, it is members of the GOP who seem most nervous about the eventual outcomes, especially in close House races. And while the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was officially disbanded in January, its spirit lingers on in hints from officials that certain votes should count more than others.

Opinion: Will Move to Purge Ohio Voting Rolls Kickstart Congressional Action?

Fifty-two years ago this week, John Lewis of Georgia was a young activist, not the Democratic congressman he is today. Yet he got a warmer welcome from the then-president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, than from today’s occupant of the White House.

On the Twitter feed of the longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, you can see a picture celebrating that time a few decades ago, when, with Democratic and Republican support, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and then signed.

Lewis was one of those who suffered arrests and shed blood to make it so. You might think that at 77 years of age, he has earned the right to relax just a little. But instead of celebrating progress made, he has to ignore occasional insults from President Donald Trump and some of his congressional colleagues, while refighting a version of that same fight for voting rights.

Every day there is that reminder, whether it is a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, stacked with a rogue’s gallery of folks with a history of searching for nonexistent hordes of fraudulent voters, or news that Trump’s Justice Department has joined Ohio’s campaign to purge its voter rolls.

How many in Congress will stand with their colleague and other leaders to strengthen rather than dilute the power of that defining law from 52 years ago? How many will stand with a president who asked minority communities to support him — “what do you have to lose” was both question and challenge — with a grab bag of policies that illustrates exactly what his statements meant?