Wednesday’s last minute decision by the US Supreme Court to accept a lower court decision extending the deadline for acceptance by the State Board of Elections (SBE) should worry North Carolina voters. It is proof of how the courts are being used to promote legislative purposes contrary to their constitutional mandate to adjudicate the law versus making the law.
With only one week remaining in the election cycle, the Supreme Court chose not to interfere with a questionable judicial decision requiring the state to accept a 9-day window to receive mail-in ballots after the election rather than the current 3-day window as has been the practice for many elections and constitutionally established by the legislature. The Court applied the “Purcell Principal” resulting from the 2006 Supreme Court case of Purcell vs Gonzalez which concludes that courts should not change election laws at the last minute for fear of confusing voters.
The court’s decision is understandable but also disturbing. Not only does it enhance doubt about the election process resulting from these last minute legal disputes, it confuses the issue of state sovereignty when it comes to state constitutional actions. The result will embolden political organizations such as Democracy Docket, a political action group, to challenge both the election results and the sovereignty of states to conduct elections in any state where the election outcome is not acceptable to their party.
This effort began with a collusive settlement between SBE Director Karen Brinson Bell, assisted by questionable legal representation by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, and Marc Alliance of Democracy Docket who represented the N.C. Alliance of Retired Americans. Elias sued the SBE on behalf of the alliance, claiming that the current law providing a 3-day window past election day for accepting mail-in ballots was a form of voter suppression despite the fact that this schedule has been applied for all elections for more than 20 years.
The SBE director, a Democrat, willingly accepted a settlement proposal with Elias’ group, extending the window for nine days contrary to state law. Since both parties in the lawsuit wanted a judicial decision that would suit their joint agenda to circumvent the legislative decision on absentee ballot rules, they sought approval from N.C. District Judge Brian Collins. Judge Collins accepted the settlement between the two parties, totally ignoring the fact that the defendants in the case, the legislative leadership, were not informed about the proceedings.
The state’s legislative leadership, Sen. Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore, sued to overturn the settlement in federal appeals court which eventually ended up before the Supreme Court Wednesday.
This long, circuitous and tortuous journey for a simple election procedure shows how the courts have become an extension of the Democrat Party’s strategy to bypass the will of the voters and constitutional authority. These judicial decisions, according to Jon Guze of the John Locke Foundation, makes the courts, particularly state supreme courts, “super legislatures.”
In theory the court system is designed to adjudicate the law as established by the legal authorities such as the N.C. Legislature and to assure that the laws meet the guidelines established under the state as provided by the U.S. Constitution. But the recent decision by Judge Collins as accepted by the Supreme Court shows that the courts can be used to actually create policies and by default make law. This is not the job of the courts.
The political parties and their operatives, in this case Democrats, have figured out the means to create laws that will go unchallenged simply by co-opting the judiciary to do the work that is legally the purview of the legislative branch. It is important to note that the ultimate judge for these cases is the state Supreme Court, but if that is the originator of the legislation then by default there is no other place to take the case other than the federal court system.
All of these actions are costly in both time, money and public trust.
North Carolina voters can begin reversing the growing corruption of the state’s court system by electing Republicans Paul Newby, Phil Burger and Tamara Barringer to the state’s highest court. Otherwise the Democrat agenda for the state will become the law and the only recourse for voters will be costly federal lawsuits.