GOP legislators lose again in court

February 12, 2014 

For a bunch of conservatives who rant about waste in government and free-spending Democrats, the GOP leaders and followers in the N.C. General Assembly sure are free with the state checkbook when it comes to passing laws that clearly have constitutional problems and wind up in courts.

For the third time, a federal court has struck down an ideologically driven measure passed by Republicans who apparently could give a hoot about the time and money they waste using the state’s law books as coloring books.

This time, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the “Choose Life” specialty license plates pushed through by Republicans, plates aimed to further the anti-abortion-rights agenda, were unconstitutional. Why? Because lawmakers declined to allow those who favor abortion rights a plate of their own. The law was trouble from the get-go, but the GOP didn’t care.

The three-judge panel naturally ruled that, without a plate for those who differed with the anti-choice agenda, the law represented a skirting of free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment.

There are plenty of Republican lawyers in the legislature who should have known better but pushed on in the name of playing to their conservative base.

Two other laws, one defunding Planned Parenthood and another stepping into doctors’ examining rooms to instruct them to narrate ultrasound images for women having abortions, have fallen as well. These and the license plate law are embarrassments to the state, clear evidence that GOP lawmakers, who hold both chambers on Jones Street and the governor’s office for the first time in 140 years, are legislating by philosophical whim, just because they can.

They are wasting the public’s time and money and devoting themselves to these legal diversions when they ought to be focused on creating jobs and dealing with the day-to-day running of government. The General Assembly is a place for serious people, not a partisan playground.

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