Cooper Vetos Bill Smashing Ballot Access Barrier

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed SB 656, the most significant ballot access reform bill in NC’s modern history. Once again, an establishment party has place politics over principle. Democrats have always claimed to champion “voter rights.” Yet the governor vetoed a bill that would have given all voters the right to vote for more people for all officers because of the claim that canceling judicial primaries in one year is “taking away the right of the people to vote for the judge of their choice.”

In his veto message, the governor claims this is the “first step toward a constitutional amendment that would rig the system so that the legislature would pick everybody’s judges in every district instead of letting the people vote for the judges they want.”

This reasoning is curious because no such constitutional amendment bill exists. And even it did, a majority of North Carolina voters would have to approve it.  So how would that be rigging the system? That is how a constitutional republic works.

Sadly, SB 656 has become entangled in the partisan “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” bickering. The original version of the bill passed the state Senate unanimously in April. A slightly revised version passed the House in June in a bipartisan vote. In fact, only seven Republican opposed it.

The bill went to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the versions. Unfortunately, when it got to the Senate floor this week, Republicans attached an unrelated provision to cancel the 2018 judicial primaries to the bill. This drew Democratic opposition, and no Democrats voted for the final version of the bill when it passed both houses.

UPDATE: The General Assembly may vote on an override of this veto Tuesday.

It is not clear when the legislature will consider an override vote. It may not come until the short session in January. Meanwhile, all advocates can do is call, email or possibly visit their legislators and the leadership of both parties, and ask them to put principle over politics. Here are some talking points to use when contacting your legislator. If you legislator asks for additional information, please contact me.

Look up your state legislator.

House Leadership

Senate Leadership

Meanwhile, NC’s “major” media have misrepresented, or missed, the impact of this bill, instead focusing on the partisan squabbling over a judicial primary.  Only the Carolina Journal reported on the primary purpose of the bill.

Earlier post.

Nomination Resignation

I reluctantly sent this letter to the State and Wake County Board of Election today:

“I hereby resign my nomination as the Libertarian Party candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives in District 36. I will be moving out of the distinct and therefore ineligible to serve.”

“I understand that since the ballots are already being printed my name will still appear. I have notified the Libertarian Party of Wake County of this resignation and their authority to nominate a replacement candidate under GS 163-114.”

My wife and I have been considering a move for some time, but I didn’t plan on doing this now. A recent accident she had made a move a higher priority. Basically, we’re getting too old to do steps. The current “sellers”s housing market made it an opportune time to put our townhouse on the market.

We’ll miss this part of Cary (and being so close to Trader Joe’s) but we’re not going far. We’re moving to Western Cary, nearer our grandchildren.

North Carolina Deserves a Better Budget

by J.J. Summerell

About 60 days late and many, many dollars short, Republican legislators have finally agreed on a state budget. There are some commendable provisions but overall the budget is still not the best deal for North Carolina.

J.J. Summerell
J.J. Summerell

They continued moving in the right direction by lowering the personal income tax rate again. They also took a small step toward ending corporate welfare by eliminating renewable energy tax credits. But these positives are offset by adding a sales tax to some services, increasing in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees, and reinstating historic preservation tax credits.

Reducing everyone’s income taxes is good. But expanding the sales tax and increased DMV fees, while seemingly fair, will actually have a greater impact on those with lower incomes. That’s not good for anyone.

Overall, the budget increased 3.1 percent over last year. As the Civitas Institute notes, in the last 20 years, our state budget has more than doubled – a growth rate nearly three times the rate of population growth. Even after adjusting for inflation, general fund spending per person has grow by 50 percent over the past 30 years.

The worst part is the process itself. It has become overly politicized, secretive, and easily manipulated by special interest groups – even with one party in commanding control of state government. Passing the budget should be the primary business of the General Assembly during its ‘long session.’ Yet state legislators, Democrats and Republicans, have made it a habit of not meeting their constitutional mandate to pass the budget by July 1.

Another problem is that policy issues have become entangled it what should be just a spending document. Issues like teacher’s assistants, driver’s education, sales tax distribution, and tax credits are important policy matters. They should properly be debated separately and individually, on their own merits.

In short, the General Assembly should first decide what items the spend money on, and then decide how much money to spend on each item.

North Carolina taxpayers deserve better. They deserve a government that does not stifle innovation through regulation, subvert compassion through bureaucracy, and suppress achievement through economic manipulation—and in so doing, limit our potential to work together voluntarily in achieving shared success and individual fulfillment.

J.J. Summerell is chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. He manages a benefits communications and enrollment firm in Greensboro.


Libertarian Candidates Support Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Libertarian candidates applauded the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down a Virginia law banning same-sex marriage, a law similar to a state constitutional amendment passed by North Carolina voters in 2012.

Wesley Casteen, Libertarian candidate for the 7th Congressional District, said the court decision this week was foreseeable years ago.

“I share the belief with our courts that government should not have a voice about who we love and marry,” said Casteen, a Wilmington lawyer. “That decision is among the fundamental and basic liberties we enjoy as individuals and government should not interfere.”

Casteen said he’s the only Congressional candidate with the courage to lead on the issues of marriage equality, privacy, and individual liberties. He explained his perspective on marriage equality in a book, Musings of a Southern Lawyer. The legal and political arguments he makes are echoed by numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and this week, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, criticized the N.C. attorney general’s decision not to challenge the ruling in a Tweet. Tillis said, “Too many politicians ignore the will of the people, and it is clear that the Attorney General did just that today.”

Sean Haugh, the Libertarian candidate, quickly replied, “Too many politicians ignore the Constitution, and it is clear that Thom Tillis does that every day.”

Haugh has produced a YouTube video on the marriage issue.

In March 2012, during the amendment, Tillis said he thought public sentiment would force its repeal within 20 years, even though he supported it.

A Thought for Memorial Day – Peace is the Death of War

A thought on Memorial Day from my good friend and fellow veteran R. Lee Wrights:

Peace is the death of war. Peace is not the opposite of war. Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is the death of war. Peace happens when enough people decide they have had enough killing. Peace happens when enough people say, "I am not at war." 

If Americans truly want to honor all those who have died fighting for our nation, and the sacrifice of their families and loved ones, we’ll take these words to heart. 

Wrights donates to Arkansas Libertarian Party ballot access fund

BURNET, Texas (April 12) – Potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights donated $250 to the Arkansas Libertarian Party ballot access fund, fulfilling the promise he made when he first began his exploratory campaign. Wrights said that he was committed to insuring that the Libertarian message would be heard in all 50 states in 2012. He pledged to donate 10 percent of donations to state ballot access.

“There can’t be anything more important to any political party than ballot access,” Wrights told the party’s state convention Saturday. “Americans cannot vote for liberty and freedom if Libertarians are not on the ballot. Republicans and Democrats have proven to us they are not going to give that to us, in fact, they are going to take more from us at every opportunity.”

Thomas Hill, Wrights 2012 campaign manager, presented the donation to Rodger Paxton, the Arkansas LP state chair. “I’m very proud to be in this room with committed and dedicated Arkansas libertarians who are willing to do the hard work necessary so the residents of Arkansas can have the libertarian option come election day,” Hill said.

Hill told delegates that Arkansas is the first party to get an installment from the campaign and they were looking forward to helping other state parties.

Arkansas Libertarians have 90 days to collect at least 10,000 verified signatures from registered voters. They began the ballot access drive March 29. Arkansas is the only state where the Libertarian Party has never placed a candidate on the ballot for a partisan race other than president. State law only requires 1,000 verified signatures for a presidential candidate.

In order to retain ballot access and bypass the signature-gathering process for the 2014 election, the 2012 Libertarian candidate for president will have to get at least three percent of the vote.

Wrights 2012 press release

State Senate approves annexation moratorium

It is now up to the state House whether or not North Carolina will impose a moratorium on municpal annexations. The state Senate approved the moratorium March 7 in a 36-12. Forced annexation opponents see this as a very important step toward ending the abuse once and for all.

“The new legislative majority has been moving quickly and decisively on the issue of forced annexation on some important fronts,” said Catherine Heath, director of the StopNCAnnexation Coalition. Both the state House and Senate are considering annexation moratorium bills and there are several bills to repeal or suspend forced annexations.

Senate Bill 27, Involuntary Annexation Moratorium, is sponsored by Senators Andrew Brock (R-Davie) and Phil Berger (R-Guilford), the Senate President Pro Tem. “Senator Brock has done an outstanding job of explaining and defending this bill in committees and on the floor,’ said Heath. A similar bill introduced in the House by Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), HB9, hasn’t moved past the first reading on the floor where it was referred to the House judiciary committee.

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Libertarians mourn death of party co-founder David Nolan

David Nolan
David Nolan

Libertarians are mourning the sudden death of David Nolan, party co-founder and author of the Nolan Chart, billed as the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Nolan died Sunday, apparently of a heart attack while driving near his home in Tucson, Ariz., just days short of his 67 birthday. He had just completed a campaign for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent John McCain.

“David’s importance to the liberty movement cannot be underestimated,” said state Libertarian Party chair Barbara Howe. “His sudden death is a shock to all of us in the libertarian community. I pledge to carry on the work David helped get started.”

“I am saddened by the news of David Nolan’s death,” said LP national chair Mark Hinkle. “He not only helped found the Libertarian Party, but remained active and helped to guide our party for the last forty years.”

“David was a champion of the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party,” said R. Lee Wrights, a Winston-Salem native and editor of the online magazine Liberty for All. “Throughout his years of activism and leadership, he never wavered in proclaiming the libertarian message without equivocation, explanation or moderation. He never once apologized for his philosophy, our philosophy… the superiority of individual rights.”

“However painful David’s death may be, his untimely passing makes me even more committed and determined to restore and preserve the vision of the Libertarian Party he and a dedicated band of visionaries first articulated in his Denver living room so many years ago,” said Wrights, a potential candidate for the 2012 Libertarian presidential nomination. “I am determined that David’s vision will never die, that the Libertarian Party will never be afraid to challenge the State and always, always defend liberty loudly, boldly and without compromise.

Nolan describes himself as having been born a libertarian, even though he was born in Washington D.C. He grew up in the Maryland suburbs, reading the science fiction of Robert Heinlein and the novels of Ayan Rand.

In the 1964 presidential campaign, as an architectural student Nolan was a founder of the M.I.T. the Students for Goldwater. The Goldwater campaign attracted nascent libertarians, since there was then no formal libertarian organizations let alone a political party. Although Goldwater lost, Nolan was active in the formation and leadership of several libertarian groups spawned by the campaign, including Young Americans for Freedom and the Young Republicans.

During Richard Nixon’s presidency, the Vietnam war, crackdowns on civil liberties and increasing restrictions on economic freedom led Nolan and other libertarians to became increasingly convinced that the Republican Party held no promise for freedom lovers. The break came when Nixon announced he was taking the nation off the gold standard and imposed a freeze on wages and prices, which Nolan denounced as “economic fascism.”

In 1971, Nolan wrote an article for a libertarian magazine entitled “The Case for a Libertarian Political Party.” Now living in Denver, he and a group of his friends began to expand on that idea and contacted libertarians around the country. On December 11, 1971 the Libertarian Party was born in Nolan’s living room.

During this same period, Nolan was working on the other accomplishment for which he is famous, the Nolan Chart.

“I kept scratching my head and wondering why people like us agreed with conservatives on a lot of things, but obviously had fundamental disagreements with conservatives on a lot of other issues,” he said “And why were there areas where we could see that liberals made sense – especially opposition to war and draft?”

Combining his architectural training and his political activism, in 1970 Nolan drew a new map of the political world that has all but replaced the old-fashioned left-right linear model. Later, Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government, refined the Nolan chart into a diamond shape to produce what the now well-known and popular World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Millions of people have taken the quiz online, it is referred to in over a dozen leading textbooks, and has been used in hundreds of classrooms around the world.

Nolan is survived by his wife Elizabeth.

Read David Nolan’s profile on