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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to address partisan gerrymandering fuels state court fight

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative-leaning justices ruled Thursday that federal courts are incapable of solving partisan gerrymandering challenges. “Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the 5-4 opinion. “But the fact that such gerrymandering is ‘incompatible with democratic principles’ does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary. We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.

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Environment Top Story

After contamination found in groundwater, DEQ orders full investigation of Chatham County coal ash site

Groundwater near a coal ash repository in Chatham County has again tested high for contaminants, prompting state environmental officials to require a full assessment of the site. A former clay mine, Brickhaven lies four miles southeast of Moncure near the Lee County line.

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Environment News Top Story

Monday numbers: Climate change likely to cost NC $34.8 billion – and that’s just for seawalls

In 2016, Hurricane Florence moved so slowly – more like a mosey, instead of a sprint – that it emptied trillions of gallons of rain over the same places for hours, even days. "At times I could have outrun" the storm, said scientist  Jessica Whitehead, chief resilience officer for the state's Office of Resilience and Recovery, at a climate change summit in Havelock earlier this month.

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Environment Top Story

Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of NC laws protecting hog industry from nuisance actions

State lawmakers allegedly violated the North Carolina constitution when they passed legislation that stripped residents of their right to sue industrialized hog operations for nuisance, according to a legal complaint filed this week. 

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Sheriffs and lawmakers clash as immigration bill passes Senate panel

Don’t call them urban sheriffs. Don’t refer to them as sanctuary sheriffs. And don’t identify them as super minority-majority sheriffs.

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Higher Ed Top Story

In a tense political climate, UNC students reporting mental health struggles

Tamia Sanders’ voice trembled as she looked out on a large rally crowd from the steps of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library in April. She was there to talk about the ongoing opposition to the return of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument and the mistreatment of student activists by the campus police.

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News Top Story

North Carolina Dems back U.S. House effort to study reparations

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House is slated to hold a hearing Wednesday on legislation that would establish a commission to consider reparations for the descendants of slaves. Two North Carolina Democrats -- Reps. G.K. Butterfield (1st) and Alma Adams (12th) -- are among the bill’s 57 co-sponsors.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: In Pride Month, a closer look at LGBTQ mental health

June is Pride Month – a time to celebrate of LGBTQ equality and remember the origins of the ongoing struggle for it. This year it is being declared and celebrated in North Carolina from the capital to our smaller towns. But it is worth remembering: while today’s LGBTQ youth live in a world much more accepting than the one that sparked the Stonewall riot, many are still struggling.

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Environment Top Story

PW exclusive: Moore County locates new elementary school near pollution, hazardous waste sites in Aberdeen

Racial, economic composition of school contributes to environmental justice concerns On the edge of Aberdeen lay a lovely tract of land that was easy to miss while speeding down Highway 5. Stippled with young to middle-aged pine trees, it historically had been used for timbering, but now the landowner, BVM Properties, was ready to sell.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Sources link UNC-Vidant dispute to ongoing battles between Board of Governors and ECU

As lawmakers work to negotiate a final state budget by the end of the month, the ongoing conflict between Vidant Health and the UNC System continues to unfold through public jabs and in private mediation. In the balance: Tens of millions in medicaid reimbursements to one of Eastern North Carolina’s most vital hospital systems.

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Education Top Story

Despite local opposition, N.C. charter board clears two new Wake County schools

The state Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) on Monday unanimously stood by its approval of two charters schools Wake County school officials deem are not needed. CSAB members agreed Wake officials’ concerns about Wake County Preparatory Academy and North Raleigh Charter Academy appear to reflect “philosophical” differences about the value of charters rather than fear of school re-segregation or charter saturation.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

Tillis touts his efforts to help Trump ‘remake the federal judiciary’

WASHINGTON – North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis declared his opposition last week to one of President Trump’s judicial nominees – a rare defection from a freshman Republican who touts his leadership of his party’s efforts to reshape the federal judiciary. Yet North Carolina Democrats are nonetheless gearing up to hit the senator, who is up for reelection next year, on his near-perfect record in support of the president’s lower-level judicial nominees – an issue that typically flies under the political radar.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at why Medicaid expansion is a “must” this session

This is the 74th day of the legislative session and members of the House and Senate face a deadline at the end of this month to finalize the new state budget. What remains unclear at this point is whether Medicaid expansion will be part of the spending plan. If not, will Governor Cooper veto the legislature's budget? Today's Monday numbers column takes a closer look at some of the numbers surrounding the ongoing expansion debate.

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Defending Democracy Law and the Courts Top Story

Hofeller files: Lawmakers lied to federal court in 2017, preventing NC from getting special election

The 2011 North Carolina legislative maps are among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court, and the state could have held a special election under new voting districts, but GOP lawmakers lied about needing more ...
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Law and the Courts Top Story

NC officials dismiss hundreds of thousands of old court cases as part of massive data ‘clean-up’

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has been quietly facilitating the dismissals of hundreds of thousands of criminal charges and infractions across the state for the past two years as part of a data clean-up effort. Each of the cases dismissed had been pending for years – some for decades – without prosecution...

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Advocates hope changes in Durham are a bellwether for bail reform in NC

Serena Sebring and Kayla Hartsfield were arrested last month after chaining themselves to the gates outside the Durham County Detention Center. The two women, activists with Southerners On New Ground (SONG), were trying to bring attention to a cash bail system they say has utterly failed. Studies show the current system disproportionately jails minorities, the poor and those accused of non-violent crimes while failing to effectively assure defendants make their court dates in higher numbers than those who are offered alternatives to cash bail.

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