by Anna Manning
John Hood writes for Carolina Journal‘s Daily Journal:
Arguing that GOP-tilted districts had rendered elected lawmakers “usurpers” who “did not represent the people of North Carolina,” Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins has struck down two constitutional amendments approved by state voters last fall: one requiring a photo ID to vote and the other capping North Carolina’s income-tax rate at 7 percent.
“The prospect of invalidating 18 months of laws is the definition of chaos and confusion,” Senate leader Phil Berger said in response to the Collins ruling. Quite so. No matter how passionate they feel about blocking voter ID, raising taxes, or reforming redistricting, Democrats should not embrace this radical and irresponsible ruling.
Its radicalism and irresponsibility extend beyond redistricting disputes. Among the “findings of fact” in the Collins decision was that capping the income tax was a racist act — that it will “act as a tax cut only for the wealthy” and tend to “favor white households and disadvantage people of color, reinforcing the accumulation of wealth for white households and undermining the financing of public structures that have the potential to benefit non-wealthy people, including people of color and the poor.”
This claim by one of the plaintiffs, the NAACP, is both offensive and factually inaccurate. Before the General Assembly enacted tax reform in 2013, North Carolinians who earned more than $60,000 a year were subject to a state income tax rate of 7.75 percent on that income. The thresholds were $80,000 for a head of household and $100,000 for a married couple.
Do you consider all these North Carolinians “wealthy”? Do you think they were all white? That Judge Collins took this claim seriously as a justification for the NAACP’s standing to challenge the tax cap should tell you all you need to know.
Politically, the plaintiffs and the progressive interest groups who have financed and cheered them on have put Democrats in a perilous situation and handed Republicans a potent election issue. If a Democratic judiciary strikes down popular policies just approved by the voters themselves, most will see the Democrats as the party hostile to popular sovereignty here, not the Republicans.
The plaintiffs have also done the cause of redistricting reform a great disservice. By blocking partisan abuses and producing fairer, more compact, more voter-friendly districts, reformers seek to promote stability and cooperation, not chaos and confrontation.
Read more here.