Weekly Briefing

Weekly Briefing

Top Story Weekly Briefing

The link between politicians and anti-LGBTQ+ violence

It’s an age-old, chicken and egg discussion: Is it extant societal forces of exclusion, hatred and reaction that give rise to authoritarian politicians who in turn foment division, prejudice, and violence, or does it work the other way around? A global survey reveals compelling examples of both scenarios in action. It’s hard, for instance, to imagine the repressive religious fundamentalism and secular authoritarianism we see enforced today in many modern nations if there weren’t already some preexisting levels of support for it in pockets of the general public.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Judges not legislators: State Supreme Court’s legitimacy depends on continued respect for precedent

Maybe the change was an inevitable byproduct of our current charged and contentious era. Maybe it was naïve to ever think that things were dramatically different in the past. Whichever the case, one thing for sure in 2022 is that public perceptions of the American judiciary as a neutral dispenser of blind justice ain’t what they used to be. And indeed, those altered perceptions may reflect a new, sobering, and thoroughly politicized reality.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Voters to politicians: Leave abortion rights alone

So now what? What are we to make of the results of the 2022 midterms now that they are – at least for the most part – finally in the books? While most everyone agrees that the results generally defied expectations given the much-smaller-than-anticipated size of the Republican “red wave” (and the best performance by a sitting president’s party in more than 40 years), triumphant claims of ideological victory and mandates have been understandably scarce.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

When legislators veto constitutional rights

"The answer to all your questions is money." For well over 200 years, Americans have understood and widely accepted the concept of “judicial review” – the idea that the courts (and in particular, the U.S. Supreme Court and state high courts) will have the final say as to what laws and acts of government are and aren’t constitutional. There have, of course, been many efforts to challenge and undermine the premise of judicial review.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The hard truth that no candidate of either party has the courage to speak anymore

To the relief of just about everyone – with the possible exception of advertising sales staff at the nation’s media companies – the 2022 midterms will soon be over. In just a few days, Americans are likely to know the answers to a host of momentous questions: Will the work that’s finally commenced to address the global environmental crisis proceed or stall?

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Memo to Biden critics: We’d all love to see the plan

The attacks on the president are relentless, but the political right offers no plausible policy alternatives Since Joe Biden assumed the presidency 21 ...
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Top Story Weekly Briefing

One question no one needs to ask about the Raleigh mass shooting

Public officials faced numerous questions last week in the immediate aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Raleigh: Who was the perpetrator? Why did he do it? Exactly where and when did the killings take place? As we learned soon thereafter, however, police quickly pieced together the answers to some of those questions.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Thanks to gerrymandering, the policy stakes in this fall’s elections in NC are much bigger than they ought to be

North Carolina is a deeply “purple” state. That is to say it’s one in which statewide elections between Republicans and Democrats tend to be very close. A classic example: The 2020 contest for state Supreme Court chief justice in which the incumbent Cheri Beasley (the current Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate) lost to Republican challenger Paul Newby (then an associate justice on the court) by 0.00007% -- just 401 votes out of the almost 5.4 million cast.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five important policy reminders from a stormy week

North Carolina endured the wrath of yet another powerful hurricane last week. And while it comes as little solace to those who lost homes, businesses or, in a few tragic cases, loved ones, on the whole, things could have been much, much worse. One need only glance at the devastation that Ian inflicted on southwestern Florida to be reminded of what these storms can dish out and how fortunate we were in comparison.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The political right’s efforts to defund the IRS are an attack on societal health and well-being

The Internal Revenue Service needs a lot more funding and staff – not less In December of 2019, my mom died. A couple of months later, the pandemic overtook American society and as with so many other aspects of modern life that quickly took on an extra level of complexity and difficulty during those harrowing and chaotic months, settling her affairs got a good deal more challenging. One notable example: dealing with her taxes.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

COVID statistics confirm that thousands of North Carolinians are alive today because of the Cooper administration’s wise public health policies

The U.S is now two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic and while we have thankfully made tremendous progress since the hell of those dark and chaotic early days, many of the most disturbing events from that period haven’t receded all that far in the rear-view mirror. It seems like just yesterday that hospitals and morgues were overflowing, even as then-President Donald Trump was promising that the crisis would magically “disappear” by Easter of 2020, and he was issuing a seemingly endless series of scientifically invalid observations and statements.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

NC legislative hearing should feature tough questions about state’s troubled hurricane response

Six years. That’s how long it will have been, come next month, since Hurricane Matthew raked and inundated eastern North Carolina with high winds and catastrophic rainfall. The storm arrived on October 8, 2016, and left within a day, but the trail of destruction that resulted was huge.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The right’s laughable and offensive attacks on Biden’s student loan debt relief program

There have been a lot of half-baked attacks on President Joe Biden’s recently announced initiative to forgive some of the crushing mountain of student loan debt that’s weighing down Americans of all ages. There's the claim that it will somehow worsen the inflation that’s been plaguing the global economy. But as expert after expert has patiently explained, the program simply isn’t big enough to have such an impact.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Successful public schools: More than just providers of a sound basic education

What is the purpose of a public school system? Twenty-five years ago, in its landmark Leandro ruling, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the purpose was, at a minimum, to provide every child in this state with the opportunity to obtain a “sound basic education.”  This week, the court will hear a new round of arguments (and presumably, attempt to fashion a permanent solution) in that same, seemingly never-ending case.

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Original Commentary Top Story Weekly Briefing

State Supreme Court issues a limited, well-reasoned check on rogue legislatures

As you may have heard by now, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued one of its more momentous rulings of recent years last week. As it turns out, it was also one of the best-reasoned. At issue in the case of North Carolina NAACP v. Moore, was whether a General Assembly elected under maps found by a federal court to be racially and unconstitutionally gerrymandered can lawfully approve constitutional amendments that would ...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

State officials move to curb another dangerous virus that threatens North Carolina

As the global pandemic has reminded us with tragic ferocity in recent years, viruses can, despite our best efforts, be enormously destructive and hard to contain – especially as our world has grown ever-more-crowded and interconnected.     And sadly, that goes not just for physical viruses like COVID-19, but viruses of the mind as well. In the era of instant global communication, it’s easier than ever for ideas – even delusional lies and fantasies – to spread like wildfire and do enormous damage before they are exposed and debunked.

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