Federal Judge Rules North Carolina Lawmakers Do Not Have Blanket Immunity; Must Release Secret Communication on Voter Suppression Bill
DURHAM, NC - A federal judge ruled today that members of the North Carolina General Assembly do not have absolute immunity and protection from releasing crucial emails and other internal documents related to their motivations and rationale for passing what is arguably one of the most restrictive and harmful voter suppression laws in the nation. Attorneys challenging the measure, from the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and Advancement Project, had requested this information several months ago from 13 primary sponsors of the bill - including documents on what data they used in drafting the legislation, whom they consulted with, and what information they may have known about its impact on voters - but state lawmakers had refused to comply. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder agreed with an earlier ruling by Magistrate Judge Joi Peake that lawmakers don't have a blanket privilege from responding to requests for information. Now, if state officials want to withhold any documents, they will have to explain what they want to withhold and why. The court also ordered the state to disclose whether they intend to have any legislators testify in response to a forthcoming motion for preliminary injunction being filed by the NAACP and other plaintiffs in the case.
RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is taking the next step to implement the Strategic Mobility Formula, a project prioritization process established last year by the Strategic Transportation Investments law. NCDOT today released data for 3,100 projects, based on criteria contained in the new formula. The data includes the original list of highway projects released in March and adds:
Educate, Organize and Mobilize: Last week Jaymes Powell Jr. wrote for the African American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party (AAC-NCDP) a very uplifting and accurate account of how Black candidates fared in the recent primaries. I spoke with him and raised my concerns that his account, though accurate, might lead Black voters into a false sense of security that will haunt us in November and beyond. Despite the successes of Black candidates in the past primaries, the threats created by gerrymandering and the Voter Suppression Act of 2013 are enormous.
Athletes at Northwestern University shocked the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of college sports, by taking steps to unionize student/athletes. Surprisingly, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, former NFL great Jim Brown and Harry Edwards, who organized a human rights protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that culminated in Tommy Smith and John Carlos giving a clenched fist salute when they mounted the winners platform, do not support the idea. It’s not that Bill Russell, Jim Brown or Harry Edwards have mellowed – they have not. Rather, they think there’s a better way to help athletes who generate $500 billion a year to major universities, athletic vendors and others.
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A pair of emails crossed my desk yesterday that plunged me down a rabbit hole and into an exploration of white-male privilege—it was an amazing trip. My understanding of the phrase “white-male privilege” tracks along the lines laid down by feminist writer and academic activist Peggy McIntosh, a senior research scientist and associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, whose 1988 essay coined the phrase “invisible knapsack” as a metaphor for the benefits “of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks” that white Americans disproportionately carry compared with black and other Americans of color. As McIntosh writes, the weightless and invisible backpack carried by white males is the largest and most expansive of all, granting them access to the most spaces with the least doubts about their sense of place or authority.
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