In another twist to the soap opera that we call the state legislature, Republican leaders have revamped two of the six constitutional amendments they’re forcing onto the November ballot, thus negating the legal issues that arose with their previous versions.
The changes are only cosmetic, though. The new versions would still be damaging to our state. Gov. Roy Cooper is still trying to block them, and his challenge should prevail.
“Both amendments, if approved by voters in November, would take the power to appoint members of the state elections and ethics board from the executive and give it to the legislature,” The Associated Press reported. “One also would swing power held by the governor to fill judicial vacancies to the legislature.”
The legislature has had a habit of trying to siphon power from the governor’s office ever since a Democrat won it in 2016. Five former governors, Republicans and Democrats, along with six former chief justices, denounced the two amendments in their previous versions. The intent of the amendments hasn’t changed.
Republican legislators have often clashed with the powers of the executive and judiciary branches — a division of power instituted to prevent abuses — and rather than be tempered by constitutional limitations, attempted to pull more power in their own hands. We’re surprised these legislators haven’t simply tried to abolish the other branches of government — and hope suggesting so doesn’t give them ideas.
Last week, State Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse hinted that any justices who ruled against legislators perhaps should be impeached. Ironically, he said that using their power to rule against the legislature’s attempt to gain more power would be “an evisceration of separation of powers.”
No. That’s not how that works.
In addition to these two power-grabbing amendments, the legislature plans to put four others on the ballot: enacting a photo ID framework for voters; lowering the cap of the state income tax rate; protecting the rights of crime victims and reinforcing our right to hunt and fish.
These may be issues worth discussing and even legislating on, but there hasn’t been much discussion, just a rush to put them on the ballot without educating the public about their merits. None of the six are pertinent enough to be made indelible in our state constitution.
Also announced this week, the legislature has given up its legal appeal to prevent state Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin from running for office as a Republican. It essentially tried to change the rules of the election after the election had begun. It’s uncharacteristic of the legislature to cut its losses. Maybe its members are beginning to realize that they don’t have to force every battle to the hilt.
But the show’s not over yet. Forgive us if we don’t relax until after Nov. 6, if then.
The six constitutional amendments will likely still be on the ballot, so it will be up to voters to educate themselves, as well as their friends and neighbors, about their true purpose. Everyone should vote against them, and then perhaps vote against some of the people who are trying to manipulate us into passing them. This hungry grab for more and more power is not in the best interest of anyone in North Carolina, no matter the party.