That's the title of an editorial in the News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sen. Thom Goolsby, a New Hanover County Republican, successfully pushed through a bill to repeal North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act. He said that the original legislation was “poorly written.”
But the truth is the law was written with impressive clarity, starting with the title. It is a law about race and justice. Those two words were not often aligned in the Old South, especially in state laws. That was what made the RJA a monument to the New South and a credit to the state that has on many fronts led the South forward.
The bill to repeal the Racial Justice Act succeeded because prosecutors resented having their motives questioned, and they wanted the threat of death to pressure suspects into plea bargains. They weren’t acting as ministers of justice. They were acting as administers of convictions.
The governor has the opportunity to show he’s willing to change his mind in light of the facts. This bill offers the first serious test of where he wants to lead North Carolina. Will it be forward or backward?
"Red State Resurgence Greenlights Executions," is by Martin Clancy at Huffington Post. He's the co-author of the recently published, Murder at the Supreme Court: Lethal Crimes and Landmark Cases.
Supporters of the Racial Justice Act saw it as a historic measure that addressed a long history of injustice. As the Winston-Salem Journal noted in an editorial, some examples were blatant: a black defendant who got the death penalty in Stanly County being referred to in trial testimonyz as a "nigger from Wadesboro"; a juror in a Randolph County case who said after the trial in which he voted for death for the black defendant that "blacks do not care as much about living as whites do."
A study by Michigan State University researchers determined that over the two decades preceding passage of the Racial Justice Act, North Carolina prosecutors rejected twice as many blacks as potential jurors than they did whites; the rejection rate was even higher in cases where the defendant was black.
"Repealing this law in the face of clear evidence that it is still much needed in our court rooms comes perilously close to institutionalized discrimination in our justice system," said the Wilmington Star-News.
Republicans now wield more political cloat in North Carolina than they have for generations. They captured control of the legislature in 2010 for the first time in a century, then broadened their majority while also capturing the governorship in 2012.
The Racial Justice Act was one of the issues prompting weekly demonstrations against Republican efforts to roll back fiscal and social measures put in place by their predecessors. Dubbed "Moral Mondays," the six weeks of demonstrations at the state Capitol have so far resulted in over 380 arrests.
But neither the editorials nor the protests have deterred the powerful Republican majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. They not only repealed the Racial Justice Act, but also conferred legal protection on medical professionals who might assist in executions. Doctors, nurses and technicians would not be liable to regulators or ethics boards for their participation in administering lethal injections. So much for the Hippocratic oath to "do no harm."