What’s the state of our rights? Stay tuned

The concept of states’ rights has never been pure.

The Confederates who eventually went to war over the right of their states to own men, women and children ditched their reasoning — that what they did was none of the federal government’s business — when the enslaved escaped to states willing to grant these brave human beings their freedom.

Then, it was time for Southern politicians to demand revisions and ever harsher penalties added to existing Fugitive Slave laws that punished those who escaped and anyone who aided them, including offering bounties that ensnared even freed Black citizens (“12 Years a Slave,” true story).

Hypocrisy has always been a feature, not a bug in the American way, especially for those deemed not worthy, not possessing “rights which the white man was bound to respect,” as Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote in the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford opinion in 1857.

You don’t have to reach back to pre-Civil War days for examples that prove the philosophy of states’ rights can be quite malleable when it interferes with a desired outcome.

A current proposal favored by a Missouri legislator, aimed at a clinic in neighboring Illinois, seems cut from the same cloth. It would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident obtain an abortion, including the out-of-state doctor or the person who connected patient to clinic.

Such laws, if approved in Missouri and elsewhere, while unconstitutional on their face and sure to be subject to a slew of lawsuits, could nonetheless serve as chilling warnings for anyone tempted to help a desperate client, friend or family member.

The Daily Drum: Supreme Court Document Leak, Roe v. Wade

It has never happened before in the modern history of The Supreme Court.  A draft of a court decision… leaked to a news organization and now very public… before the court takes the  vote.  This draft on the issue of abortion… suggests that the landmark 1973, Roe v. Wade decision could be overturned.  Chief justice John Roberts saying today… the draft is authentic… but not a final decision of the court. We look at what this means for the independence of the court, abortion rights, even election politics.

 

Following the ‘Golden Rule’ is proving a political impossibility

Most religious traditions follow a set of commandments, perhaps written down in a holy book. They differ in the particulars, but the sentiment can be boiled down to what’s called the “Golden Rule” — treat others as one would want to be treated.

You don’t need to subscribe to any faith; just strive to live with honor in a civilized society. But apparently, even that’s too much for some folks who have other priorities.

Where faith divides: How do voters define justice in 2020?

In a recent phone conversation — a catch-up during COVID isolation — a longtime friend talked of a memory that seemed especially relevant these days. A fellow cradle Catholic, whom I met at a Catholic university, she recalled how startled she was on entering my childhood parish for my decades-ago wedding and finding herself surrounded by statues of the saints and Christ on the cross, familiar to her but so very different. The faces and hands and pierced feet were painted black, so unlike anything she had experienced growing up.

It stopped her, until she realized how appropriate the scene was. Of course, these representations would be reimagined in the image of those who gathered and worshipped in this particular holy place, located in the heart of West Baltimore.

It opened her eyes and, at that moment, expanded her worldview. The incident was one among many that inched our friendship toward a richer, more fulfilling space, where we could see the world and its gifts, as well as its inequities, through one another’s eyes.

North Carolina’s Republican Party is having an identity crisis

OPINION — All eyes with be on North Carolina next year, when the Republican Party holds its 2020 convention in Charlotte to nominate President Donald Trump for a second term. In truth, though, the state has been the center of attention for a while because of actions of party members — and the gaze has not been kind.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: VP Pence Visits CLT; Huntersville Ed Committee Recommendations

On this edition of the Charlotte Talks local news roundup:

The Huntersville education advisory commission recommends that the town operate its own charter school and split from CMS, a move that one CMS official says is “politically driven. How likely is this outcome?

Vice President Mike Pence was in the Queen City this week for an RNC Kickoff Meeting, as next year’s Convention, which will be held in Charlotte, is getting closer. What was the purpose of this visit, and what have we learned about plans for the 2020 Republican National Convention?

As abortion legislation is passed around the country, rallies are taking place nationwide, and here in the Queen City. We’ll talk about a Charlotte rally where anti-abortion and abortion-rights advocates clashed.

In South Carolina, the House and the Senate have now approved around $120 million in tax breaks to offer to the Carolina Panthers to entice them to move practice fields and the team’s headquarters to the state from North Carolina.

And get ready to start your engines — this weekend is the second “Race Weekend” in a row for Charlotte (we hosted the NASCAR All-Star Race last Saturday, and this weekend is the Coca-Cola 600). What should we know to attend the event or avoid the crowds?

Those stories and much more with Mike Collins and a panel of journalists on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

Guests:

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

Alexandra OlginWFAE Reporter

Glenn Burkins, editor and publisher of QCityMetro.com

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

Roll Call Columnists on SCOTUS Abortion, McDonnell Decisions

Every presidential election, one side or other has tried, mostly in vain, to make appointments to the Supreme Court a major issue. With the present court’s rulings on controversial issues announced to a divided country — to reactions of shock and celebration, depending on which side you’re on — 2016 may be different.

Obama visit adds heat to contentious and crucial North Carolina Senate race

About the only thing that’s certain about North Carolina’s crucial Senate race is that it’s close. Polls show a tight contest, with Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and her Republican opponent Thom Tillis exchanging slim leads. It’s not even clear what the November midterm will be about.

Is it a nationalized election, with Hagan tied to a president with low approval numbers? Will Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House, be weighed down with dissatisfaction over a sometimes dysfunctional state legislature? Will the economy be the ruling issue or will education, health care and the environment, major North Carolina concerns, rise in importance? What role will social issues — abortion and same-sex marriage — play in turning out the base in both parties?

If this past week was an indication, the answer is maybe – or perhaps, all of the above.

The president and the pope: What will they talk about?

During President Obama’s upcoming European trip, he’ll be engaging in important diplomatic and political discussions, including the Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by the Dutch government, and a U.S.-EU Summit in Brussels. But perhaps most anticipated by observers of church and state — and where the two intersect — will be the president’s planned March 27 get together with Time’s Person of the Year, Pope Francis.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory gives protesters cookies – seriously

North Carolina GOP Gov. Pat McCrory hand carried chocolate-chip cookies to abortion bill protesters outside the Raleigh governor’s mansion in a let’s-make-up gesture. The surprised recipient said he told her, “‘These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.’”  The cookies were returned, and it wasn’t because he forgot the milk. The note on the untouched plate read: “We want women’s health care, not cookies.”

The Tuesday scene, described by The News & Observer, was fallout from McCrory’s Monday night signing of legislation that, among other provisions, will make clinics adopt some of the regulations that apply to ambulatory surgery centers, and allow health-care providers to opt out of performing abortions if they object. Opponents say the new law will limit access to abortion by forcing clinics to close, while McCrory and the bill’s supporters say the health and safety of the state’s citizens, not politics, are what’s at stake.

McCrory’s sincerity is not the issue. After state health officials sanctioned an Asheville, N.C., clinic on Wednesday for “egregious violations … that revealed an imminent threat to the health and safety of patients,” it was either evidence of the need for greater vigilance or proof that current laws are working, depending on which side you support. But it certainly means the subject of clinic safety will and should remain center stage.

However, McCrory’s name on the bill was a cue for endless televised replays of his 2012 pledge during a gubernatorial debate that, if elected, he would not sign any further abortion restrictions into law. In recent Public Policy Polling, the abortion bill was supported by only 34 percent of voters, with 47 percent opposing it. By a similar 48 to 33 margin, voters preferred that McCrory veto the bill (and that number included 25 percent of Republicans).

The cookies treat for angry dissenters was a clumsy move (they chanted:  ”Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude.”) and also in keeping with some of the troubles that have plagued McCrory since he made the leap from Charlotte mayor to the most prominent political job in the state. Engaging protesters about the issue of clinic safety would have been a better move.

Though presiding over Republican super-majorities in the state House and Senate, he has seemed more follower than leader, swept along by a conservative wave of proposals that has signaled North Carolina’s change in political direction, at a loss when talking with many who must have voted for him.