Friday, February 02, 2024

Judge Bob Orr to the NC Supreme Court: "Be Fair!"


Former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr (and former registered Republican) filed suit Wednesday (Jan. 31) in Wake Superior Court aimed at taking down gerrymandering in North Carolina by way of a Supreme Court finding that fair elections are also a constitutional right even though fair doesn't appear in the language of the NC Constitution but only the adjectives free and frequent. “If the citizens of North Carolina are guaranteed by their State Constitution the right to ‘frequent’ and ‘free’ elections," Orr's lawsuit argues, "then surely the Constitution guarantees them the right to ‘fair’ elections. After all, what good are ‘frequent’ elections if those elections are not ‘fair’? Likewise, what good are ‘free’ elections if those elections are not ‘fair’?” 

Orr filed the suit on behalf of seven Democrats and two Unaffiliated voters.

In particular, the suit mentions specific Congressional and NC General Assembly seats as egregiously illustrative of the meanness (sometimes approaching cruelty) behind partisan gerrymandering, namely CD 6, CD 13, CD 14, SD 7 and HD 105, "as well as other districts" (like HD 67, HD 103, HD 10, HD 13) -- redistricting maps showing outrageous unfairness, all appended to the complaint.

Orr seems to be going straight for the Paul Newby gullet. Newby as chief of a 5-2 Republican majority took inordinate pride in ruling not so long ago that the previous finding by a Democratic Supreme Court that extreme partisan gerrymandering is both recognizable and subject to judicial re-do -- he said that was wrongly decided, and in fact, he and his fellow Republican majority ruled that partisan gerrymandering is not only A-OK but venerable in its historical presence in state government.

Guaranteed, Paul Newby is not gonna see the logic of saying "free" and "frequent" also implies "fair." He'll see no such thing, and his fellow Republicans also, who can't admit that the base of their power is situated in the highly partisan districts drawn by computer desk jockeys who know how to manipulate population blocks.

Who Is Bob Orr?
Aside from having served as the appointed District Attorney for Watauga County and the rest of the 24th Prosecutorial District in 2014 (to finish the term of DA Jerry Wilson), Orr had already built an impressive record of service. He was appointed to the NC Court of Appeals by Republican Governor Jim Martin in 1986. He won election to the NC Supreme Court in 1994 and served there for ten years. He ran for governor in the Republican primary of 2008, losing to Pat McCrory. In 2016, he was a John Kasich delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, leaving the convention early before Trump's formal coronation but not before commenting to a WRAL reporter that Donald Trump was “singularly unqualified to lead this country.” In fact, Orr said, "Trump is a danger to the country."

CD 6, CD 13, and CD 14 all elected Democrats to Congress in 2022 -- Kathy Manning, Wiley Nickel, and Jeff Jackson -- but after the late Fall Republican gerrymandering of those districts, all three Democrats declined to run again because of impossible odds. It's now a foregone conclusion that these will be Republican seats after November. SD 7 is the outrageous case that carved Black neighborhoods out of Wilmington and shoving them across the Cape Fear River to be part of a very rural Senate district dominated by white Republicans. HD 105 illustrates the bizarre favors the General Assembly attempted to give the recent turncoat Tricia Cotham, whose previous district map was heavily Democratic and now leans Republican.

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