The Party Line

North Carolina has garnered a lot of media attention in the last few weeks, and dependent upon the political and ideological persuasion of the observer, the state is either: 1., headed for the ultimate demise of Western civilization, or 2., resurrected itself and found its true political nature.

With much of the discussion of the massive election law revisions coming to North Carolina, many have described the legislation as the “most sweeping voting changes in the country.” 

One aspect of the legislation that has drawn particular focus of the media and analysts is the seven-day reduction in the number of early voting days.

Now that the regular, or “long,” session of the NC General Assembly has come to an end, the reviews are coming in fast and furious, most notably broken down by partisan rank.

With opening salvos from the New York Times and the response by the Wall Street Journal’s columnist breaking into the liberal-conservative reactions, some of the most intense fights centered on the core feature of most state governments: The budget.

­With several months of Moral Monday protests under way, the North Carolina General Assembly may be feeling the heat of the dog days of summer, especially in terms of public opinion.

Now that North Carolina is out from under federal oversight from the 1965 Voting Rights Act, speculation is that the GOP super-majorities in the General Assembly will have free reign to rewrite the state’s election laws.

In the recent U.S. Supreme Court case involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the writer of the majority’s opinion has been a justice who has been the lynchpin of the major developments in gay rights since 1996. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who garnered a 97 to 0 Senate confirmation vote in 1985, has become what some court watchers have labeled the new swing vote on the Roberts Court. 

Generally, Kennedy has been seen as one who tends to side with the conservatives on the court, with the strong exception in gay rights cases. 

In the 5-4 ruling in the case of Shelby County v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority has effectively sealed the fate of one of the 20th Century’s two most important pieces of legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

North Carolina is already facing the kind of national attention that has become the new norm in presidential campaigns, but next year’s mid-term election may bring a whole new set of focus on the state.

The National Journal casts the U.S. Senate race as one that could determine which party controls the chamber.

In the beginning, there were a few diehards, committed to raising awareness of their vision of the perceived injustices being perpetrated by an overbearing government. They believed that speaking up and taking action was the only way to draw attention to the problems they saw.

Their main weapon was to gain notice, but they needed an outlet to gain the attention. So staging rallies and protests, all under their recognized 1st Amendment right to “assembly and petition” their government, was at first small. But as time marched on, so did their numbers and strength. 

North Carolina’s 2014 U.S. Senate race is starting to shape up as most had expected—one of the closest fought in the nation. And when early punditry call it “a close fight,” voters can usually expect an ugly, knock-down drag out battle.