On Friday, a Superior Court judge struck down the voter ID and income-tax-cap constitutional amendments North Carolina voters had approved in November, saying the racially gerrymandered General Assembly was illegitimate and had no right to put those questions to voters. 

Patrick Murphy writes that he doesn’t think the ruling will hold up: “As much as I like the result, this ruling is pretty outlandish. How does he conclude that because the legislature is an illegal gerrymander, they can’t put amendments on the ballot? Is there any precedent for this? What about the laws they passed? What of the fact that the referenda passed statewide? I can’t see this surviving appeal. That said, it is an interesting legal question—one that will hopefully be answered as a part of this lawsuit.”

“Those amendments were put up for a vote and voted for by the people, not the General Assembly,” adds Cisco Rivera. “Whether we agree with the amendments, and whether the General Assembly is illegally constituted or not, is irrelevant to the fact that the voters passed those amendments into law. And if those two amendments are not valid because of the ‘illegal’ General Assembly, why aren’t the other amendments invalid, too? What about every other law the ‘illegal’ General Assembly has passed throughout the time in which it has been illegal?”

Those are good questions, Cisco. May we direct you to the column “Why Should Cheaters Prosper?” which might answer some of them? 

Last week, Sarah Willets reported on NC Child’s new Child Health Report Card, which, among other things, found that suicide was the second leading cause of death for North Carolina youth between the ages of ten and seventeen. 

Chelsea Bertel puts the blame on the General Assembly: “Schools are a good place to meet kids where they are, and to meet their mental health needs. Unfortunately, our legislature underfunds essential trained and skilled personnel, such as school psychologists, who have the widest gap between recommended and actual ratios of all support personnel. We have to demand that our legislature and state superintendent make real changes to save lives.”

In our coverage of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel’s State of the City address, we noted that some residents of Watts-Hillandale and Trinity Park seemed resistant to—or skeptical of—proposed zoning changes that would increase density. Watts-Hillandale resident Tim O’Brien says that doesn’t include him or his neighbors.

“There is a perception that the neighborhood is against the proposed initiative,” he writes. “This is not true. There are voices on all sides of the issue in our neighborhood. Whether or not the board intended to communicate a stand one way or the other, the public perception is that we are actively working against the proposal. Personally, while I am no expert, I do not see any sinister conspiracy behind the new regulations and agree with the stated intent. While I would like to have more evidence showing what the impact will likely be, I am not sure that evidence exists. So I say that we should support the change and be vigilant. 

“It’s a lot like the climate change debate. We could choose to believe that there is not sufficient science to believe in climate change (i.e., we just need to study the proposal more) or that the climate scientists are out to destroy the economy (i.e., the planning commission is in the pocket of developers), but neither of these is rational. The resistance to both arguments is rooted in the difficulty of convincing someone of something when his/her income (i.e., property value) depends on him/her not believing it. 

“As our mayor said in his State of the City address: ‘We have to decide if we as a community really want to do something about gentrification and affordable housing, or if we’re just going to complain about it. Are we going to talk about racial equity a lot but ignore it when it comes to the biggest equity challenge our city faces?’ So I support the proposal.”

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