Carolina Journal Weekly Report

October 23, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of October 23, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — A recent N.C. Supreme Court ruling should convince state lawmakers to rewrite a law that tramples on some ex-felons’ constitutional right to own guns. That’s the conclusion the John Locke Foundation’s in-house legal expert reaches in a new Spotlight report.

“Owning firearms is a right, not just a privilege,” said Daren Bakst, JLF Legal and Regulatory Policy Analyst. “But an overbroad law that creates blanket prohibitions on exercising a right, even for an ex-felon, makes gun possession a privilege rather than a right. The legislature can amend the law in 2010 and make North Carolina once again a state that respects the right to bear arms.”

Bakst’s report responds to the state Supreme Court’s August ruling in Britt v. North Carolina. In that case, justices ruled that a 2004 change in state law violated ex-felon Barney Britt’s right to own guns. “The court concluded that the legislature went too far in passing a complete and permanent ban on gun possession by all ex-felons,” Bakst said.

Technically, the court’s recent ruling affected Britt alone, Bakst said. “Based on the holding and rationale of the court, though, it’s likely that many other ex-felons are having their constitutional rights violated through this excessively broad ban on gun possession.”

Bakst examines changes in state gun laws enacted since 1995. “In less than 10 years —from 1995 to 2004 — North Carolina went from few restrictions on gun possession by ex-felons to excessive restrictions,” he said. “In 2004, the General Assembly passed a blanket prohibition on the possession of all firearms by anyone who has committed a felony.”

News Features

CJ: Suburban traffic key to reducing congestion
CHARLOTTE — David Hartgen, the emeritus professor of transportation studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who did the study, said transportation planners need to look more at commuting by suburban residents instead of focusing on access to downtown business districts.

CJ: Study of military history making a comeback
RALEIGH — Outside academia, military history appears alive and well. The shelves of Barnes and Noble and Borders are lined with books about wars. Military movies, television channels, and documentaries are immensely popular. Even on college campuses, students snatch up military history courses soon as they become available.

CJ: School district can sue for higher funding
RALEIGH — In an Aug. 28 decision, the N.C. Supreme Court held that under the state constitution, the school board could indeed sue the county, though it ordered a new trial as to whether the county commission was actually obligated to provide additional funding to the schools.

In drought, Easley’s club got water
RALEIGH — As a four-year drought parched North Carolina into the middle of 2002, then-Gov. Mike Easley and his administration called it a major disaster. The governor urged people everywhere to save water, and he imposed stiff restrictions. Except at Easley’s exclusive private golf club in northeastern Chatham County. New records and interviews show that Old Chatham Golf Club pumped millions of gallons from a creek leading to Jordan Lake, diverting water from one of the region’s major sources to keep greens alive.

Split decision keeps ballot challenge alive
RALEIGH — The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a state law that forces third political parties to collect tens of thousands of signatures to get on North Carolina’s ballot, but the court’s split decision means the case will likely be heard again. Two of the three judges who heard the case filed by the Libertarian and Green parties and their candidates supported the law. But a third judge said North Carolina’s rules are unconstitutional and place the groups under overly burdensome restrictions.

Upcoming Events

Monday, October 26, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Max Borders
Socio-Economic Metaphors:
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (not necessarily in that order)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at Noon
A Lecture
with our special guest Dr. Kyle Scott
Reuniting Life, Liberty, and Property: Using Kelo to Expose the Consequences of Politicizing Rights

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

It would be well for every public official who has offered an opinion on this to retake high school civics.
Staples Hughes, the state appellate defender, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer,  responding to Gov. Bev Perdue and other officials’ opposition to releasing 20 criminals sentenced in the 1970s to “life terms” after the state’s appellate courts found that the General Assembly at the time had defined a “life” term as 80 years.

The Voting Rights Act is not supposed to be compensating for failure of voters to show up on Election Day.
Abigail Thernstrom, a Republican appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, talking to the Washington Times about a decision by the Justice Department prohibiting Kinston from holding nonpartisan elections. The Justice Department held that the to ensure that blacks’ “candidates of choice” — Democrats — won, party labels are required, so whites will know which candidates are Democrats, and vote accordingly.

This project is scheduled to be completed in 2015. Certainly by that point the economy will be picking up again, and we feel that the four lanes will be needed by that time.
Pat Ivey,  N.C. Department of Transportation division engineer for the highway division that includes Forsyth County, justifying  to the Winston-Salem Journal the state’s plan to widen Union Cross Road. The highway is one of a number of roads that Dell demanded be widened as a condition for the company location a computer assembly plant in Winston-Salem. Dell recently announced it was closing the plant next year; the N.C. DOT though still plans to widen the road.

You will have some that will say, ‘This is just not for me.’ You have to work first before you see your check, and that is a change.
Susie Parrott,  Work First manager in Mecklenburg County, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer on changes in Work First, the state’s welfare program, that requires potential recipients to work, go to school, or job hunt before they receive a check. Parrott expects that some will drop out of the program because of the requirement that they do something productive to get a check.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
George Leef of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy discusses the explosion of high-quality online universities; the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone analyzes the impact of changing voter enthusiasm on upcoming elections; Donna Arduin of Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics explains why the stimulus package could cost N.C. thousands of jobs; JLF’s Becki Gray reacts to Gov. Perdue’s veto of a bill linked to government transparency; and CJ’s Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai discuss the state’s ban on video poker. 

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: Upcoming State Board of Election hearings into potential violations by Mike Easley’s election campaign; how long a life sentence should be; the $5.3 billion request for high speed rail lines in our state; and the Senate bill to recognize the Lumbee. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; former House Speaker Joe Mavretic; and Cash Michaels, columnist for The Carolinian and the Wilmington Journal.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


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