2018 General Election Elected 50 — 34

The Last Line of Defense

These Political Notes have addressed state politics.  Governors, of course.  A slew of State Senate candidates in Virginia in 2017 along with constitutional offices.  Crucial special elections in Delaware, Washington State, and Connecticut to ensure Democratic control of state legislatures.  Candidates for the New York state senate who would ensure that a Democratic majority is a genuinely Democratic majority. 

Anita Earls’https://earls4justice.com/ campaign in North Carolina is different.  She is walking into an historic battle.  By rights, North Carolina should be a swing state, a purple state — like Colorado, maybe.  In 2017, North Carolina elected a Democratic Governor and a Democratic Attorney General. 

With the exception of Mitch McConnell in the US Senate, no Republicans have been more tenacious or more unscrupulous in attempting to retain power for Republicans than the Republican legislators of North Carolina

Though the state is almost exactly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, voter suppression laws and redistricting by a post 2010 Republican majority led to Republican dominance of congressional seats and the state legislature. 

Election of a Republican governor led to legislative decisions for North Carolina that resembled the states most dominated and most debilitated by Republicans — Kansas or Oklahoma.  The US Supreme Court’s recent decision about gerrymandering leaves us without confidence that political gerrymandering will be fixed by that Court.

The 2016 election of a Democratic Governor helps in North Carolina, but is not a fix for North Carolina’s problems.  The North Carolina legislature, with a gerrymandered super majority in both houses overrides vetoes, rejects appointments, and changes the law so that the legislature instead of the governor makes certain appointments (election commissioners, for instance). 

It is possible that, despite the gerrymandering, Democrats could regain enough seats in one or both legislatures to prevent vetoes from being overridden.  It is even conceivable that Democrats could gain control of one or both houses of the legislature.  Virginia Democrats came close.  Gerrymandered as they are, encumbered by voter suppression, that best hope of achieving (small “d”) democratic victories in North Carolina is slim. 

The Democrats last hope for a more (small “d”) democratic approach to the state legislature and the election of  Democrats is the elected state supreme court.  That court has a 4-3 Democratic majority. 

The legislature has voted to require supreme court candidates to run identified by party for a court that used to be non-partisan.  The legislature has voted to increase the size of the court to nine members. The Republican goal is to achieve a 5-4 Republican majority on the state supreme court.First, there is an election in November.  Two Supreme Court Justices are up for election.  Sam Ervin IV is a Democrat running for reelection.  His grandfather was a central figure in the hearings that led to Nixon’s resignation. His name is so familiar to and so well regarded by people in North Carolina he will be reelected. 

The other justice running for reelection is Republican Barbara Jackson.  A second Republican is running as well.  The Democrat running for that seat is Anita Earls.   She is a civil rights lawyer and she can win.   A few candidates I’ve written about have called themselves civil rights attorneys.  None deserves that description more than Anita Earls.

Anita Earls graduated from Williams College and Yale Law School.  From Yale, she joined the Ferguson, Stein Law Firm, a distinguished, predominantly African American firm in Charlotte.  She was there for ten years, becoming a partner.

From Ferguson Stein, Anita Earlsspent two years as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton administration, three years as Director of the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and four years as Director for Advocacy for the University of North Carolina’s Center for Civil Rights. 

From 2007 to 2017, Anita Earls was Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.  In that role, in an organization housed in Durham, NC, she remained an important North Carolina figure — even serving a term on the NC state Board of Education.

What does the Coalition and its Executive Director do?  Focus on voting rights, environmental justice, and challenging racial discrimination. The Coalition keeps hope alive that the Supreme Court will rule against partisan gerrymandering. The Coalition fights to move youths out of adult detention centers, out of a center in North Carolina where a disturbing number of youths have committed suicide.  The Coalition fights for early voting and opposes reductions in early voting.  It opposes North Carolina’s voter photo ID constitutional amendment. 

Anita Earls https://earls4justice.com/would come to the North Carolina Supreme Court with a point of view — an understanding of the extent to which the North Carolina constitution can be sympathetic to (small “d”) democratic goals.   If she wins and gives the North Carolina Supreme Court a 5-2 majority.  If she wins, she will give the people of North Carolina the chance to live in a democracy.  When North Carolinians vote for legislators their votes would mean something.   Electing Anita Earls would ensure that, even in an enlarged court, there will be a 5-4 Democratic majority.