Monday Wake Up Call, North Carolina Edition – March 6, 2023

The Daily Escape:

Early blooming Bradford Pear trees, near Cana, VA – March 2023 photo by Lee Ogle

North Carolina is in today’s news for two reasons: First, North Carolina Republicans, who control the state legislature, announced a deal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. North Carolina would be the 40th state to expand Medicaid after a decade of Republican resistance.

From the WaPo:

“The deal marks a stark turnaround for Republican leaders that played out over years in North Carolina and in states across the country, as more and more governors and legislatures expanded Medicaid to low-income residents.”

NC’s governor, Democrat Roy Moore will sign the bill if it gets to his desk. Passage would extend Medicaid coverage to 600,000 of the state’s poor citizens. Dozens of rural hospitals in NC closed during Covid, so maybe it dawned on NC’s Republican Party that dead constituents have a difficult time voting for them.

As with other states, this will allow North Carolina, at no cost to the state government, to give health insurance to the state’s working poor. The federal government will pay for 90% of the cost, and the rest will be covered by a new tax on hospitals and insurance companies.

Wrongo wrote about how the Medicaid expansion was a great source of revenue to state governments here. The NC House Speaker, Republican Tim Moore said that since the federal government will pay North Carolina a $1.8 billion bonus if expansion passes, the GOP was motivated to sign on.

The extra money is part of the 2021 stimulus package signed into law by Biden, that offered signing bonuses to states that expanded Medicaid. In NC’s case, $1.8 billion. Biden reacted:

“This is what I’m talking about….That’ll be 40 states who’ve expanded. 10 more to go.”

It’s doubtful that any other states will sign on this year.

Shouldn’t Red states be taking care of their residents? Instead of wasting time with anti-trans bills and anti-woke bullshit? But that’s too much to expect.

A second North Carolina story involves a case in front of the US Supreme Court, Moore vs. Harper. Last fall the Supremes heard this case about the “Independent State Legislature Theory“. The case started out as a challenge to a Republican-gerrymandered voting map that the NC Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutionally partisan.

NC’s GOP then appealed to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the Constitution’s election clause gives state legislatures freedom to do whatever they decide about their own elections, and that no court can intervene in that. A decision was expected in June, 2023.

But the Supremes may not get a chance to weigh in, since the case is back before the NC high court. Why you ask? Well the NC Supreme Court is elected. And in November, the Republicans won a majority of the seats on the court.

Unsurprisingly, the court decided to review two cases that were decided against Republicans. What’s remarkable is the extent to which NC Republicans are willing to go in order to take control over the outcome of elections away from voters. And they’re not even trying to be covert about it.

On February 3, the NC Supreme Court granted a petition to rehear the case. That means the state supreme court may reconsider a case that is already in front of the US Supreme Court.

On March 2, the US Supreme Court asked for a supplemental briefing. They’re asking the NC Republicans, (the plaintiffs that originally challenged the maps), and the Biden administration to submit supplemental briefings about what effects the state court’s reconsideration might have on the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision.

So the legal jousting about voting rights in North Carolina continues. Maybe the state’s decision to embrace Medicare expansion after a decade means that we simply have to wait for the GOP to come around to an idea that most Americans favor. In the case of voting rights, Wrongo suggests continuing the fight, not waiting.

Time to wake up America! The Biden administration won’t be sending free money to the states to get them to embrace universal voting rights. That may have worked with Medicare, but not with voting rights.

To help you wake up, watch, and listen to Roy Rogers play “Walkin Blues” from his video “Slide Guitar For Rock & Blues” on a 12 string resonator guitar. Rogers makes it his own, and the playing and vocals are terrific:

This is dedicated to our friend Rene S, who also plays a mean guitar. “Walkin Blues” is a blues standard that’s been recorded countless times, often with different lyrics. Son House, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead all have their own versions.

terence e mckenna

The conservative movement bristled at the Warren Court and its successors whose rulings reflected the notions that the constitution could evolve via case law (Hamilton felt that it could). So they have come up with notions of strict interpretation that rely on the text and possibly old case law. But the funny thing about this is that they only apply this standard when it suits their politics.

An example is with rulings that destroyed campaign finance reform. Our founders would have been shocked at notions that corporations had rights like persons. When the early US companies were founded they were individually chartered and no one believed that the government could not limit them. Nor would our founders have been kind to the notion that money was speech.

Similarly when the court crushed the voting rights act it was acting against the text of a law that had been recently approved. The court pretends to defer to the legislature except when it does not.

Then there is the notion of deference to precedent. Roe v Wade was a major decision from which other decisions flowed – and we can see the Roe was popular. But the overruling was done by a sneering and arrogant judge.

So a rogue conservative court is now in charge of our rights and god help us all.