A Post-Shutdown Herding
McCrory visits Heritage, Samuelson bails, Ellmers takes heat, a judge says, 'Oops'
A grab bag:
One of the major drivers of the government shutdown — and government sabotage in general — was The Heritage Foundation. The venerable hard-right policy group has stepped up its already considerable pressure on Republicans to turn hard rudder right since former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina took over as executive director last year.
So check out who spoke to Heritage about infrastructure and vocational training needs just the other day. A McCrory spokesman said there was no connection between the politics of the shutdown and the invitation to the governor, which I don’t doubt and which also doesn’t matter that much. He’s been carrying water for the most extreme right-wing elements in our state and nation since his election. No reason to stop now.
It is the kind of thought that rarely passes the lips of a member of the federal judiciary: I was wrong.
But there was Richard A. Posner, one of the most distinguished judges in the land and a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, saying he was mistaken in one of the most contentious issues in American politics and jurisprudence: laws that require people to show identification before they can vote.
Proponents of voter identification laws, who tend to be Republican, say the measures are necessary to prevent fraud at the polls. Opponents, who tend to be Democrats, assert that the amount of fraud at polling places is tiny, and that the burdens of the laws are enough to suppress voting, especially among poor and minority Americans.
One of the landmark cases in which such requirements were affirmed, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, was decided at the Seventh Circuit in an opinion written by Judge Posner in 2007 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2008.
In a new book, “Reflections on Judging,” Judge Posner, a prolific author who also teaches at the University of Chicago Law School, said, “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion” in the case. He noted that the Indiana law in the Crawford case is “a type of law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”
Well, yeah. A bit late now, Your Honor. Still, good to see.
Who saw this coming? Ruth Samuelson had placed herself in the thick of the House GOP infrastructure, and with Thom Tillis running for U.S. Senate, she was a leading candidate for House Speaker. The “other opportunities” must be pretty compelling.
With her decision not to run again, Mecklenburg County loses a pair of powerful Republican voices in the House, which means — oh, dear — the center of political influence potentially shifting even more east and rural. Like we needed that. On the other hand, it also means one less lawmaker connected to ALEC.
Finally, John Frank in the N&O had a fun story about the good people of Moore County just not being all that happy with their erstwhile tea party gal, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn, who got caught in the grinding wheels of the shutdown and committed the unpardonable sin of voting to end the thing. “She’s no longer a darling of the tea party,” says one local apparatchik.
Against that backdrop, it’s almost poignant to read the thoughts of one woman, who asks what the point of shutting the government down was supposed to be. Well, there was no rational or policy point, but there was a symbolic point to be made.
It had to do with the only real “idea,” if you even want to call it that, the modern-day Republican Party has: Government is bad. At all times, in all places. If you see government, shoot it. Worry about the consequences later — or don’t, ‘cause if you’ve played it right, you’ve got yours, so who cares? “These people don’t understand that everybody hates all of them,” says another resident, a “centrist,” in Frank’s story. “All of them.”
Mission accomplished. These choices are clearly better left to We the People, such as Renee Ellmers, whose family just exercised their freedoms under the Second Amendment to not secure an AR-15 from the family cache of assault rifles and then report the gun stolen.
No wonder the voters of the 2nd Congressional District want her gone. What law-abiding American patriot wouldn’t be standing watch over her family’s arsenal with a locked and loaded piece of her own?