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Carolina Journal Radio No. 909: Taxpayers cannot afford another state, local bailout

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
October 19, 2020 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 909: Taxpayers cannot afford another state, local bailout

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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October 19, 2020 8:00 am

Federal taxpayers cannot afford another bailout of state and local governments. Joseph Coletti, the John Locke Foundation’s senior fellow, explains why in a column he co-wrote for Coletti contends most state governments have fared better than expected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throwing more money at them now would lead to waste while continuing to drive up the multitrillion-dollar federal debt. High-profile Democratic politicians have endorsed the Green New Deal. It’s billed as an environmental program, but the deal would extend government’s reach far beyond environmental policy. Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discussed the Green New Deal’s potential impact during a recent online forum presented by the John Locke Foundation. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., continues to ask questions about the federal government’s response to COVID-19. You’ll hear highlights from Burr’s recent appearance on Capitol Hill with experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Sticking to Capitol Hill, North Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Thom Tillis, took a break from the campaign trail to question former FBI Director James Comey. Tillis’ query focused on the controversial federal government investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election. N.C. voters will select three state Supreme Court justices this fall. Jon Guze, John Locke Foundation director of legal studies, highlights questions voters should ask about judicial elections as they prepare to cast their ballots.

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From Cherokee to Kuretake, from the largest city to the smallest town, and from the statehouse to the schoolhouse, it's Carolina Journal Radio, your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most important public policy events and issues. Welcome to Carolina Journal Radio.

I'm Mitch Kokine. During the next hour, Donna Martinez and I will explore some major issues affecting our state. High-profile Democrats have endorsed the Green New Deal. An expert with North Carolina Ties explains why that program would cause major problems for the nation's economy and its environment. North Carolina's senior U.S. senator continues to ask questions about the federal government's response to COVID-19. You'll hear his recent queries from Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, our other senator recently grilled a former FBI director. You'll learn why they're still talking about the 2016 presidential election. And you'll learn questions North Carolina voters should be asking about this fall's state Supreme Court elections. Three seats are up for grabs on the state's highest court, including chief justice.

Those topics are just ahead. First, Donna Martinez joins us, and she has the Carolina Journal headline. We cannot afford more bailouts for state and local governments. That is the message in a piece published by The Hill and co-authored by the John Locke Foundation's senior fellow Joe Colletti. Joe and his co-author Michael LaFave made the case in this piece that another federal bailout would come with just too many negative consequences. Joe joins us now to talk a bit about this. Joe, welcome back to the program. Good to have you with us. Glad to be here.

Thanks, Donna. As you and I are talking right now, there are negotiations underway between the White House and Congress about all of this. But no matter how this turns out, Joe, let's talk about the economics of this idea in general that the federal government needs to send more money to state and local governments.

Your general thoughts, the key thesis of the piece that you and Michael wrote. Right. So there's the first part of what we wrote is that the federal government really can't afford any more spending. That we are facing the largest debt outside of wartime in the nation's history and spending, sending more money down to states is unaffordable for the federal government. And states really don't need the money is is even more important from from our perspective, because Michael's at the Mackinaw Center in Michigan and we're here looking at North Carolina state budget. And when we take a look at what's happening at the state level, states were in bad shape from April through June because they weren't collecting income tax.

Right. That was all delayed until July. And from July through August, they looked the numbers come out about even. And the and and the actual shortfalls through June weren't as large as anybody was expecting. So from the fact that states weren't hit as bad as they as they thought they were going to be, that most of the money has been made up and that and that for a number of states, they received so much money. They received some states received even more money than their general fund from the federal government. So for most states, the idea of more federal money is just throw is just drowning somebody who's who's having a hard time staying afloat anyway.

Now, that's a key point, Joe. We're talking about more money from the federal government. Give us a sense of the even the general figures about what states have already received. So the first portion that we've all concentrated on is the hundred fifty billion dollars in Corona Virus Relief Fund, which was part of the CARES Act. And that's money that went to states for them to be able to appropriate on what they deemed to be coronavirus related new expenses. So the idea was states didn't budget for everything, couldn't have budgeted for everything.

And there were there were new things. There were new expenses to to just meet all the public health and other last minute needs. We had advocated that that should be freed up so that it could be used in part for to to cover the shortfalls. The legislature, the General Assembly here ended up and Governor Cooper passed and signed using four hundred million dollars of that for opportunity for families to cover their costs for opportunity scholarships, things like that. On top of that, there was additional money for Medicaid. There was more money directly to schools.

There was money to to the universities. And so there's close to a billion dollars that has come down already to state and local governments from the federal government through the various pots of money that they've sent. And then on top of that, now the feds are arguing about how much to add to that. Well, Joe, why would we be talking about even more money if we've already had this huge infusion of cash pushed down to the states? And as I understand it from your piece, some states haven't even used all of the initial round of money yet. So why are we talking more money?

Right. That is part of the question that we were trying to figure out is that and we can't figure that out. Part of it, though, is that that the first response from from Washington, especially from from Democrats in Washington and Congress, is let's throw more money down. But we've also seen this from the White House that they want to use money for infrastructure. And they've been talking about anywhere from one hundred and fifty billion dollars more to two to five hundred billion dollars more. And the Democrats on the House side have been talking one and one and a half, two trillion dollars up to that amount that they've they've been bringing that number down. The last one that I said, you know, that that that's just the natural reaction of folks in Congress is let's spend more money.

That's how we fix everything. So no matter how this ultimately turns out, we've got a huge debt problem, even if somehow or another we decide we're not going to send even more money or if we do whatever the amount is. Joe, how are we going to pay for all of this? That is the, you know, multi trillion dollar the twenty three trillion dollar question at this point that the we were already running trillion dollar deficits in good economic times.

We have been the country's been growing at two and a half percent. There's no way to be able to offset the amount of debt that that the country has has taken on. And in the largest drivers of that are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. The largest growing part of that is interest payments, even though interest rates are as low as they are.

When you're tacking on three trillion dollars in a year, that means that you're going to have to pay even more interest on that. So the the the the question for Congress is what do we do to be able to afford the government that we have or how do we change the government that we have to make it affordable? And, Joe, neither presidential candidate, the two major candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, neither of them are talking in any way about taking a look at reining and spending, particularly on those major entitlement programs that you mentioned.

And you also mentioned Medicaid, which is a federal and state program here at the state level in North Carolina. We are hearing Governor Cooper and Democrats pushing really hard. They want to add at least a half a million more people to the state's Medicaid rolls. What kind of impact are we talking there?

Should that come to fruition? Well, the for for the federal government, it almost gets unnoticed, right? It's another close to a billion billion and a half, two billion dollars or up to actually up to four billion dollars once the program gets fully implemented. For the state, we're looking at another four hundred million dollars or more that would would have to be paid.

And the governors talked about doing that on the backs of hospitals and on the backs of the insurance companies that are managing the Medicaid program or will be managing the Medicaid program. But that turns into four hundred, five hundred million dollars of actual of real money that gets paid somewhere out of North Carolina or through or through federal or through federal dollars. So that's that's a that's a big chunk in the four billion dollars adds and is on top of the 50 billion dollars that the state is already spending from all sources. So it's it's a big impact. Well, it's a huge impact. And future generations are going to have to be paying for this, whether we end up expanding our spending here at the state level.

And that depends on who is elected to the General Assembly, who the governor is, et cetera, and certainly the federal level as well. Joe, in our remaining moment with you, are you optimistic or pessimistic at you being a numbers guy at what you're seeing? I am optimistic for at the state level, having some concerns about the economy with so many more businesses permanently closing. But but still optimistic, bullish on North Carolina, but very concerned about the national picture. Joe Coletti is senior fellow with the John Locke Foundation.

Joe Coletti, thanks so much. Thank you. Same with this much more Carolina Journal radio to come in just a moment. Revelations about boondoggles, who the powerful leaders are and what they're doing in your name and with your money. We shine the light on it all with the stories and angles other outlets barely cover.

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I'm Mitch Kocay. Some high profile members of the Democratic Party have endorsed the Green New Deal. It's billed as an environmental program, but it could have more wide ranging impacts. Kent Lassman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute discussed those impacts during a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation. Lassman discussed the Green New Deal's impact on 2018 elections. We saw the idea explode, and I mean explode both in popularity. People could actually say, oh, I've heard of that, but also the number of components that went into it. By the time the Green New Deal was finally introduced in Congress in 2018, we had nine presidential candidates endorsing it.

Twelve U.S. senators. And it was the mainstay of the program around which Alexandria Cortez drove her national prominence and her foothold on the national scene. That Green New Deal idea included not just energy and not just environmental protections, but it had all sorts of other policy goals, sustainable wages, relief in the form of insurance givebacks. The idea that we would have adequate housing. It even had a provision.

One of my favorites. It's very difficult as a somebody who thinks through what policy means to know how to measure it. But it had a proposal calling for every American to have adequate access to nature. So the Green New Deal went from really focused on climate and energy and the environment to focusing on a progressive grab bag. And the idea was if we couldn't have these progressive goals achieved, we couldn't really live in a green, sustainable society.

So they all had to fit together. And that's the Green New Deal that we're now wrestling with. Lastman explains why the Green New Deal would have a major impact. This is transformative. It is a design, a plan to reshape not just the economy and the economic aspects of our lives, but how we live, where we live, when we engage in work, how we will be paid and who will pay us and what that value is all about. So it's much bigger than one or another regulatory proposals or shaping the way the energy is delivered. It's transformative. It is the bedrock of a very large step toward a socialist.

And I don't mean that in a pejorative or just as a descriptive term. This is the bedrock proposal for a step towards socialist applications here in America. Lastman explains how the Green New Deal leaves out important details. These programs, they call for the end of certain activity or the end of certain fuels. There is no alternative ready to step into that gap. And it's superficial. It is not quite high school level thinking to say, well, we'll just have electric cars instead of gas powered cars, because that electricity comes from an electric grid that is fueled by power sources that rely on.

That's right. Fossil fuels, gas and coal and other fuels that the Green New Deal advocates are not happy with. So in addition to decarbonizing the economy, I think that's the kind of the top level analysis. The underlying analysis is to drive fear, which is you have to do what we say we know best.

And if you don't, everything will come tumbling down. The world is not sustainable. Our transportation networks are fouling the air and water.

Our logistics systems aren't going to get goods and services delivered to your community or to your home. It's really a philosophy and a program based on fear. I think the counterpart, what it's trying to replace, is very traditional in America. It's not novel or new, but we rely on optimism and innovation.

We rely on incremental changes in a given technology that improve year over year. And that's the fundamental difference is one that is driven by scarcity and fear or one that is driven by these traditional American values of optimism and innovation and relying on people of goodwill and of free will to make deals with one another. That's Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

He's speaking during a recent online forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. Lassman and his colleagues calculated possible costs of the Green New Deal. In North Carolina, the first year alone, we came up with a figure of more than $74,000 per household. That would be the brand new cost for implementing the Green New Deal. The next few years, years two through five, the number for each North Carolina household is more than $47,000. And then finally, once you make it to year five and you've implemented some of these changes with the buildings and the transportation network, there is an ongoing cost.

So for every year thereafter, the nation and the households of North Carolina would suffer an additional burden of at least $40,697. Lassman explains how Green New Deal advocates differ from others who focus on improving the environment. Just to be clear, this is not the same as the pro-environment or pro-species protection or pro-conservation movement. It's very easy for me to, as a libertarian leaning guy, to align with those folks.

Because we have some of the same goals and we can talk about mechanisms to get there. But the anti-modern, illiberal, anti-energy movement, it is massive. One metric which is not complete, it's probably not even the best metric, but just an understanding of the money spent on organizations that advocate for policies in this area. It's about 300 to 1 for the anti-energy community versus the people like at the Competitive Enterprise Institute where we're trying to put forward sensible, reasoned policies that would allow for the development of energy so the economy can continue to grow and we can put people to work.

About 300 to 1 in the known spending through these non-profit organizations or through philanthropic charities like the MacArthur or Ford Foundation when they document where they make their grants. So it is a massive undertaking. I think the worst aspect of the whole problem or debate is something that is now becoming much more common, unfortunately, across the board on a whole range of other issues. And that is it's not just in politic, but it's impermissible to talk about some of these ideas. To say there are tradeoffs, that carbon dioxide has some benefits, has some costs, and those benefits and costs will not be equally distributed in every community. That conversation of tradeoffs, which is the essence of economic analysis, it's the essence of how we get through our daily life.

If I want a ham sandwich or a turkey sandwich, there's a tradeoff with this. Those conversations are nearly impossible. We see terms like denier thrown around with no really rooted in reality. Major journalists, national journalists like Chuck Todd saying, I'm not going to invite people on who don't agree with me. So Meet the Press will not have a debate about this any longer.

And that's a real risk and the danger that I think we're facing. That's Kent Lassman, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He's sharing his concerns about the Green New Deal during an online forum sponsored by the John Locke Foundation. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. If you love freedom, we've got great news to share with you. Now you can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place. North Carolina Conservative dot com.

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I'm Mitch Kokay. North Carolina's senior U.S. Senator continues to ask critical questions on Capitol Hill about COVID-19. Senator Richard Byrd directed one basic question to the high-profile coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Would you also answer for members of Congress, for the husband and wife that come to us and say, my husband got COVID and I, the wife, didn't get it, how, with a highly transmittable infection like this, can two people live together and one be positive and one never get positive?

If there's an answer, I'd love to be able to help. Yeah, I mean, that happens all the time with infections, Senator, that although a virus can be highly transmissible, there's a great degree of variability of a person's natural resistance to a particular type of an infection. So although a highly transmittable virus usually has an attack rate that's high, we see all the time individuals who are exposed to someone with an infection who do not get the infection. If you look at the population as a whole, you see the kinds of things that we're seeing as this pandemic evolves, that it is highly contagious. We had the same situation where you had HIV, where individuals were living with a person who had, you know, sex on a regular basis with someone with HIV and they never got infected, whereas another person could have sex one time with a person with HIV and get infected. That's the nature of the variability of susceptibility to infection among individuals.

So it's entirely conceivable. Burr also has questions for the head of the Food and Drug Administration. Have we made up new protocols for the review of a COVID vaccine? Or are we simply following the protocols that we've used for every vaccine that every member of this committee, every member of Congress and the American people have always seen as the gold standard? Well, with respect to our approval or authorization of medical products, FDA does represent the gold standard.

Now, the statutory definition for an EUA or authorization is different, of course, than it is for an approval. But we're following those criteria. With respect to our performance during COVID-19, I want to give you a few examples because, in fact, you're correct. FDA does represent the gold standard. Our scientists are incredible.

They've done really remarkable work here. And one of the major things that distinguishes us from other regulatory agencies around the world is we actually look at the primary data. We don't just look at a paper, we just don't look at a press release.

We look at the primary data, our scientists analyze that data, and then we draw conclusions from that data. You've been listening to some of Senator Richard Burr's recent questions and their answers about the COVID-19 pandemic. We'll return with more Carolina Journal Radio in a moment. We're doubling down on freedom.

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Both brought to you in the name of freedom by the John Locke Foundation. Welcome back to Carolina Journal Radio. I'm Mitch Kochai. In the heat of a hotly contested re-election battle, Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis still took time to take part in a high-profile hearing on Capitol Hill. He helped question former FBI Director James Comey. The topic? The controversial investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election. Tillis honed in on multiple errors an Inspector General identified in the FBI's conduct of that investigation. Mr. Comey, I'm not going to ask some questions that have already been asked by prosecutors and lawyers whose preambles and predicates you have rejected.

So instead of getting a non-answer, I want to go more from a management perspective. We had General Horowitz before this committee, Inspector General Horowitz, and he identified, as you're aware, the 17 errors and omissions. And as I look at some of the errors and omissions, do you think we know one that was identified as a crime?

What do we do with the remainder? I mean, do you accept General Horowitz's reports and his findings? Do you think that they were valid? I do, and I hope that it was followed by a root cause analysis, which any enterprise ought to engage in, to figure out, so exactly why did this happen and how should we change to make sure it doesn't happen again? Well, let's say that you came in as the new director of the FBI after the prior director had their organization studied. You found these errors and omissions. If it didn't rise to a level of a crime, in your opinion, do you think it at least should have prompted terminations and disciplinary action on the part of – these are all highly trained, highly educated, highly experienced professionals in the FBI. And by the way, the majority of them are great people, but it's a big organization.

But what about the remainder? I mean, you're the new director. What about in this report from the inspector general? What do you do? What is your remediation plan? What would you be doing right now to address the 16 other errors and omissions that occurred prior to your watch? I'd be doing two things, looking wide and looking narrow, wide to see what the systematic problems are, looking narrow to try and understand, so when these employees made these decisions, what were they thinking? Your misconduct turns on whether someone was intentionally engaging in wrongdoing and there's a range of misconduct short of that. You'd want to assess that with respect to everybody with personal knowledge and then make your judgments based on that.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis had more questions for former FBI Director James Comey. You were quoted – I want to read this so I don't get your words wrong – but you were quoted as saying the FISA process was followed and that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by the DOJ and the FBI. You went on to say the notion that FISA was abused is nonsense. Do you still stand by that?

I don't. I don't think it was abused, but I think I was wrong in having confidence in the FISA process and in the layers of oversight and review. I was too confident in this extensive, really very complicated system. Comey's response prompted a follow-up from North Carolina's junior U.S.

Senator. What would have prompted you on the front end to think that it was okay? I think that you already said in prior testimony that there were things in the FISA process that should have been approved. Why, under your watch, weren't we already trying to do those kinds of changes? Well, my confidence was based on the fact that it was regular oversight by the Department of Justice, regular audits of our cases, and that I also understood the complexity of the process. Agents would complain to me everywhere I went, it's too hard to get a FISA, too many people have to check off on it, too many people have to review my work.

So knowing the process, which included regular audits, gave me confidence as a business leader or government leader that we have a sound, healthy process. And that was wrong. You're listening to U.S. Senator Thom Tillis question former FBI Director James Comey. This exchange took place during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.

Tillis placed the FBI's mistakes in perspective. Imagine a case with far less publicity than the investigation of a sitting U.S. president. One of the things that worry me about this is we're talking about an investigation of someone who was running for president of the United States.

I, like Senator Sasse, had resisted some of the changes that my colleague Senator Lee was putting forward, but I felt like I had confidence in a process that clearly I shouldn't have. And even the FISA court has expressed their concerns with the information presented to them. But you know what I really worry about? I worry about people that would never have a hearing on their case before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I mean, we're here because we're talking about a high profile elected official. But do you have any concerns at the same sorts of lapses that were used here? And I do think people should be held accountable and prosecuted. Do you have any concerns if we go back over the over the course of the FISA process that we've had innocent people out there subjected to the same process and potentially wrongfully received a warrant and surveillance?

Sure. It's a reasonable concern. The inspector general did a look across dozens of cases and found mistakes. I think he said in every case, that's a serious concern that there's a systemic problem. Now, that doesn't mean that the warrants wouldn't have been issued otherwise. But that's besides the point. There was an issue. And if I were still there, it would be something I'd be thinking about every day.

And I suspect Chris Wray is. Tillis wasn't done with the grilling. I've got another question. I remember General Inspector General Horowitz. I asked a series of questions because in the report, when he talked about a possible political motivation for the behavior of some of those involved and identified in the investigation, I asked him about, you know, did he see any evidence of a political motivation?

He said that was murky. But if you've gone through it, and I'm sure that you have, do you believe that this whole process was absent any political bias against the president of the United States, that it was just void of political bias, just a paperwork error or business process that needed to be streamlined? Or how do you feel about that murky description that General Horowitz gave to the motivations of people? We've seen all the emails and the communications, the results. How do you feel about that? Do you honestly think that this process at the at the operator level was truly devoid of any political bias?

I do. And I'm not just saying that. I'm saying that because I read Horowitz's 400 page report where I think the most important finding is in case opening and the conduct and the investigative decisions, there was no evidence found of political bias. If Horowitz finds something, he knows how to say it.

And he found the opposite. And so that's why I say that. But why would why would Inspector General Horowitz, who I think is, you know, very capable Inspector General, go so far as to say it was murky? You say that there's there's no doubt, but we have him say it was murky based on the same information that I read in the report.

I don't know where that I'm sorry. I don't know where the murky comment comes from. I'm talking about the report itself, which I've read very carefully a number of times. And he makes that finding.

We found no evidence of political bias in any phase of this investigation. The controversial investigation focused on President Trump and his 2016 campaign for the presidency. Tillis had one question related to the man who wants to beat Trump in this fall's election. I know Hunter Biden was appointed to Burisma in 2014. The board, while you were the FBI director and vice president, Biden was in office. Did you have any concerns or did did you have any concerns about that with or express any concerns with Vice President Biden?

I never learned anything about it. I didn't know anything about it when I was FBI director. That's former FBI Director James Comey answering questions on Capitol Hill from Republican U.S. Senator Tom Tillis of North Carolina.

Tillis questioned Comey's role in the federal law enforcement agency's controversial investigation of President Trump's 2016 campaign for office. We'll return with more Carolina Journal radio in a moment. Real influence.

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I'm Donna Martinez. Three of the seven seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court are up for grabs this election cycle. Now, the result of North Carolina's vote will either cement the Democrats hold on the state's highest court or add a bit of Republican balance.

But many North Carolinians really aren't even sure why these seats are so important and how they impact our lives. Well, to get some answers to that very important question, we turn to John Boussey. He is the John Locke Foundation's director of legal studies. He's been writing about the importance of the court at

John, welcome back to the program. What is at stake this election cycle with these three seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court? Well, what's at stake really are the laws that are going to govern us. People don't often realize it when it comes to the state Supreme Court. But in fact, the justices on the state Supreme Court have more power over our the laws to govern us in many ways than the members of the legislature, than the governor or even the citizens as a whole.

That would be shocking to a lot of folks, John. First of all, many people don't realize that we even elect justices to the Supreme Court here in our state, which of course we do. They may not realize also that these are partisan races.

So the ballot will actually tell you who the candidates are and which candidate is a Democrat, which candidate is a Republican. What types of things will come before the court, John, that will have such direct impact on each and every one of us? Before I answer that question, let me just talk about something you brought up, which is the fact that our justices are elected. That's actually a very good thing, given that Supreme Courts at every level of government have become, in effect, super legislatures. It's very good that we get to elect ours at the U.S. Supreme Court.

They're appointed for life. So as citizens of the United States, we are stuck with decisions that affect our laws made by members of a super legislature. And we don't even have the opportunity to vote them out of office in North Carolina.

We do. Here's what I mean when I say that the Supreme Court is a super legislature. The North Carolina General Assembly can vote in a law.

The governor can approve it, but it's still up to the Supreme Court because of certain doctrinal changes that took place in the second half of the 20th century. It's now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the law is enforceable. It's also up to the Supreme Court to decide what the law means. They can change the meaning in ways that the legislators would never have wanted or recognized or intended. But nevertheless, that becomes the law.

That's why I say they're the super legislature, super legislature. And that's why it's so important that we pay attention to who's running, find out what their judicial philosophy is and vote. John, it's very interesting, I think, the issue of philosophy and also political party affiliation. As I mentioned, these are partisan races. There is a Democrat Party nominee.

There is a Republican Party nominee for each of these three seats. But people might be listening to us and saying, well, hey, wait a second, this is a court. This is supposed to be justice is blind. We learned that in school.

So why does it matter that we know all sorts of information, party affiliation and philosophy? Well, unfortunately, the idea of justice being blind went out the window in North Carolina in the 40s and 50s and all across the country the same thing happened. The intention was to actually weaken the power of the Supreme Court at the U.S. level.

But the effect was actually to make it more powerful. Two pieces of judicial philosophy came in. One was this idea of living documents.

Constitutions and laws were regarded as living documents, the meaning of which could change depending on changing situations, changing ideas of what's needed. And the other one was this idea of judicial deference, which means that the court should simply defer to the legislature when it's a kind of regulation that the courts approve of. Between them, justices who adopt those kinds of philosophies can make the law anything they want to be. Now, not all justices have done this. There's a there's a growing movement in this country started at the Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court with Anthony Scalia.

That's called originalism. The idea is that a judge's job isn't to decide what the law ought to be. He simply needs to apply the law as it's written.

And if there's any doubt about what the meaning of the written law is, well, it means whatever people understood it to mean at the time it was written or ratified. That keeps the courts where they belong, not as legislatures, but as as courts adjudicating disputes. And we should be looking for judges and justices who adopt that philosophy. To some extent, you can get a feel for it by political party in general. In general, Republicans are more likely to be originalists than Democrats. But it's not a sure and fast thing what you really if you're taking your responsibility as a voter seriously, you should try to find out what a judge or justice, what a candidate for justice has said about their philosophy and even better if they've got a record on the bench. Find out how they ruled in cases that they decide based on maybe what they thought their policy preference was or what they thought their party wanted them to do. Or did they decide the case on the basis of the law as it was written?

That's such an important point. And that is the reason why here on Carolina Journal radio, we're talking about these races and different decisions. John, you've been writing about this at John Locke dot org. My Carolina Journal radio co-host, Mitch Kokay, has been writing about different rulings from the North Carolina Supreme Court. He writes at Carolina Journal dot com.

The point is, of course, to be an informed voter and to take in all this information and then make your choice when it comes election time. John, as you know, one of the three seats that is on the ballot in November is the seat for the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Democrat is Sherry Beasley. She is the incumbent, the current chief justice. Her challenger is Republican Justice Paul Newby, who currently sits on the court. Tell us about the role of the chief justice and why it's such a critical seat and that it matters who is elected.

Well, I got to contradict you a little bit. I don't think it matters all that much in North Carolina. It's not like the U.S. Supreme Court where the chief justice has a lot of both moral and practical influence on how the cases develop in North Carolina.

He can't. The chief justice doesn't get to decide. He doesn't get to proceed, preside over the the hearings on the case. He doesn't get to assign which justice writes the opinion. So I actually don't think if just if Paul Newby gets elected as chief justice, he might have a little bit of moral authority over the other simply because he's the chief, but he'll be new. I don't think I think it's important just because it's a member of the court, but I don't think it's important very much beyond that. Right now, the makeup is six Democrats, one Republican on the North Carolina Supreme Court. So let's just say for the sake of discussion, John, that the Republicans do well in the election and that North Carolinians elect one Republican, two Republican, even as many as three Republicans. What about this question of, quote, balance on the court? What is that and is it something for people to consider? Well, it is. I mean, sadly, we do see that very often justices on the Supreme Court vote along party lines.

Partly that's because of what I said before. Democrats are more likely to take a flexible living constant living document approach to the law. Republicans are more apt to be strict constructionists and originalists. But I would hope that everybody on the court, regardless of their political party, would recognize they have a duty to apply the law without fear, without favor, equally to everyone. I think we should appeal to their best instincts and to their integrity as judges and just remind them of their duty. And we encourage every North Carolinian, of course, to become an informed voter about all of the races, including the three seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court that are on the November ballot. All sorts of ways to find out more information about the candidates, what they think, if they are current members, what they have written in their rulings or their dissents. Some of those resources, of course, to rely on, and also

John Gazeith is director of legal studies for the John Locke Foundation. John, thanks for talking with us. Really appreciate your time. Thank you, Donna. And that's all the time we have for Carolina Journal Radio this week.

Thank you for listening. On behalf of Mitch Kokai, I'm Donna Martinez. Join us again next week for more Carolina Journal Radio. Carolina Journal Radio is a program of the John Locke Foundation to learn more about the John Locke Foundation, including donations that support programs like Carolina Journal Radio. You can send email to development at or call 1-866-JLF-INFO.

That's 1-866-553-4636. Carolina Journal Radio is a co-production of the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina's free market think tank, and Carolina Broadcasting System, Incorporated. All opinions expressed on this program are solely those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advertisers or the station. For more information about the show or other programs and services of the John Locke Foundation, visit or call us toll free at 1-866-JLF-INFO. We'd like to thank our wonderful radio affiliates across North Carolina and our sponsors. From all of us at Carolina Journal Radio, thank you for listening and please join us again next week. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-03 15:49:51 / 2024-02-03 16:06:59 / 17

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