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Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman criticized for joke about Ruth Bader Ginsburg getting groped by Abe Lincoln
Comment sets off a Twitter tit-for-tat with Norman’s Democratic opponent, Archie Parnell
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com
ROCK HILL, South Carolina (CFP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman’s attempt to riff off of the current controversy over allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh is causing a fresh round of criticism in a race in which treatment of women has taken center stage.
Norman, addressing the crowd at the beginning at a September 20 debate for 5th District candidates in Rock Hill, said, “Did y’all hear the latest, late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings? Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
The joke echoes a meme ricocheting around the internet in which Ginsburg, 85, is shown alleging that she was groped by Lincoln in 1862.
The crowd laughed. While Norman’s Democratic opponent, Archie Parnell, did not address the remark at the time, he later blasted Norman on Twitter: “My opponent apparently thinks sexual assault is a joke. It is not. But I guess that’s the best we can expect from someone who pulled a loaded gun on his own constituents.”
The latter comment was a reference to an incident in April in which Norman pulled out a loaded gun during a meeting with gun control opponents at a local diner, less than two months after the massacre of students at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Norman defended his actions, saying he was “tired of guns being demonized.”
Norman responded in kind: “Perhaps we should have a debate about your own abuse and harassment of women, Parnell.”
Parnell’s campaign was rocked in May after divorce records revealed that he had been accused of domestic violence against his then-wife in the 1970s. He admitted that he had been “violent” but insisted that he had changed in the intervening years.
Democratic leaders had called on Parnell to quit the race, but he refused and won the Democratic primary in June.
The 5th District has historically been solidly Republican. However, Parnell came within 2 points of beating Norman in a 2017 special election to fill the seat, which became vacant when Mick Mulvaney was picked as President Donald Trump’s budget director.
Given the closeness of the special election, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had added the seat to its 2018 target list but later dumped Parnell after the abuse revelations surfaced.
The 5th District includes a stretch of upstate South Carolina from near Columbia to the Charlotte suburbs.
Decision means 2018 primaries can proceed in existing districts
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) – The U.S. Supreme Court has indefinitely stayed a ruling by a panel of three federal judges that invalidated North Carolina’s U.S. House map for unconstitutionally diluting the voting strength of Democrats.
The January 18 decision by the high court means state legislators will not have to redraw the map for the 2018 midterm election, a prospect that threatened to throw the election process into chaos.
The Supreme Court’s unsigned order stays the ruling “pending the timely filing and disposition of an appeal by this court.”
While the order did not indicate how many of the justices were in favor of granting a stay, it did note that two members of the court’s liberal bloc, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, wanted to deny the application for a stay filed by Republican lawmakers.
Common Cause North Carolina and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina sued to invalidate the House map passed by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2016, arguing that the Republican majority improperly used political considerations in drawing the map.
No federal court had ever a stuck down a congressional map for being gerrymandered for political, rather than racial, reasons. But the majority opinion from three-judge panel who heard the case said partisan gerrymandering – a common political practice in many U.S. states – violates a “core principle of republican government” that “voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
The January 9 ruling gave state lawmakers just 20 days to draw a new map, an order that is now on hold until the Supreme Court considers the appeal. Qualifying for the May 8 primary is scheduled to begin Feb. 28.
The high court is already considering similar cases involving state legislative districts in Wisconsin and Maryland that could set a precedent for the North Carolina case.
Should the ruling in North Carolina be upheld on appeal, it could have significant effects in other Southern states where Republican state legislative majorities have gerrymandered maps to their advantage, particularly Florida, Virginia and Texas.
Democrats cheered the ruling, which could help them make a dent in the GOP’s 10-to-3 advantage in North Carolina’s congressional delegation. But Republicans accused the judges of “waging a personal, partisan war” against the state GOP.
Ironically, what may have sunk the North Carolina map was the explicit admission by GOP lawmakers back in 2016 that they were drawing lines to maximize the number of Republican-friendly seats – an admission made to overcome objections to a previous map struck down for improperly using racial considerations.
After the map was redrawn in 2016, several incumbent lawmakers were forced to run in new territory and one, former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, didn’t survive after she was forced to run against another incumbent in a Republican primary. However, the new map did not change the overall party composition in the state’s House delegation.
The 2016 map has allowed Republicans to hold on 77 percent of the state’s congressional seats, even though election results have been closely divided between the parties in recent statewide and presidential elections.
Donald Trump carried North Carolina by just 4 points in 2016, as Democrat Roy Cooper squeaked into the governorship by a margin of less than 1 percent.
The redistricting case was heard by James Wynn, a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; W. Earl Britt, a senior U.S. District Court judge in Raleigh; and William Osteen Jr., a U.S. District Court judge in Greensboro.
Wynn and Britt were appointed by Democratic presidents; Osteen, who dissented from part of the ruling while concurring in striking down the map, is a Republican appointee.
Decision could affect current challenge in Texas and future GOP efforts to pack black voters into districts
By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling striking down the congressional map approved by North Carolina lawmakers after the 2010 census because it relied too heavily on racial considerations in drawing the new lines.
The May 22 ruling will have little impact in North Carolina because lines were already redrawn after the state lost the case in the lower court. But in the long term, it could limit the ability of Republican majorities in Southern statehouses to pack black voters into a small number of districts, thereby maximizing the number of safe GOP seats.
It could also have an impact on pending litigation in Texas, where the U.S. House map is being challenged by Latino and Democratic groups over alleged racial gerrymandering.
After the high court’s ruling, a federal judge in San Antonio overseeing the case asked Texas’s lawyers to consider whether legislators might “voluntarily” meet in special session to consider changes to the state’s map. There was no immediate response from state leaders.
The case in North Carolina was the high court’s latest attempt to resolve the tension between the 14th Amendment, which forbids using race as the primary consideration in drawing political lines, and the Voting Rights Act, which requires legislators in most Southern states to maximize the potential of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice.
At issue were the 1st and 12th districts, which were changed substantially after the 2010 census as part of an effort to make the state’s districts equal in population, as required by earlier Supreme Court rulings.
Under the new lines, the black voting age population in the 1st District rose from 48.6 percent to 52.7 percent, largely by adding majority-black areas of Durham into the district. The black voting age population in the 12th District also rose from 43.8 percent to 50.7 percent, which was done by replacing existing white voters with black voters not previously in the district.
The state had defended the changes by arguing they were made to comply with the Voting Rights Act. But the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, rejected that argument, noting that both seats had already been represented by African-American Democrats without the addition of more black voters.
Kagan wrote that the Voting Rights Act “gave North Carolina no good reason to reshuffle voters because of their race.”
Kagan was joined in the opinion by her fellow liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, along with conservative Clarence Thomas, the only African-American on the court.
Three other conservatives justices — Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy — agreed with the majority that the 1st District had been impermissibly drawn but disagreed about the validity of the 12th District. The court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, did not take part in the case.
After losing the case at U.S. District court, North Carolina’s legislature redrew the state’s entire map, which was used in the 2016 elections. African-American incumbents in the 1st and 12th districts — G.K. Butterfield and Alma Adams — both won, although Adams was forced to move to Charlotte and run in new territory after her home in Greensboro was drawn out of her previous district.
The new map did not change the political balance in the state’s congressional delegation, which remained at nine Republicans and three Democrats. Its only significant effect was forcing two Republican incumbents — George Holding and Renee Ellmers — to run against each other. Holding won.
Over the last 30 years, as Republicans have taken control of state legislatures across the South, majority black districts created to comply with the Voting Rights Act have sent African-American representatives to Congress, in many cases for the first time since Reconstruction.
However, the packing of black voters into these districts have reduced black voting age populations in surrounding districts, making them more Republican. One result has been that white Democrats, who were once the mainstay of Southern congressional delegations, have all but disappeared.
Only six Southern states — Florida, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia — are currently represented by any white Democrats. And out of 40 Southern Democratic representatives in Congress, only 15 are non-Latino whites, compared with 20 African Americans and five Latinos.
Out of 109 Republicans representing the region, 105 are white, three are Latino and just one, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, is African-American.
Texas, where the congressional map is currently being challenged, presents a particular wrinkle in application of the Voting Rights Act because it contains large concentrations of both African-American and Latino voters.
While black voters tend to be strong, partisan Democrats, Latino voters are somewhat less so, which makes it difficult to advance the argument that lines are being drawn for political reasons, which is legal, rather than for racial considerations, which is not.