Veto-gate, continued. Is lying wrong?

Two weeks ago I asked the question, should the NC Supreme Court get involved in veto-gate. Specifically, I raised this issue: Can the court extend its reach to cover the act of lying by elected officials?

These are strange times. Governments around the world are struggling with all kinds of chaos, just like we are. In Great Britain, for example, the Scottish Supreme Court last week ruled that Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament was illegal because he lied about his motivations. An extraordinary step for extraordinary circumstances. A ruling against lying.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of England made just such a ruling, smacking down PM Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen.

As I understand the ruling, it went beyond precedent to affirm a bigger and broader truth: Lying is wrong.

While lying to the Queen might not fall specifically into the catgegory of treason, it would largely depend whether the act of ‘misleading the Queen’ is regarded as disloyal as to whether treason had been committed under those circumstances. Acts of disloyalty to the Queen can still be punishable with a life sentence in prison, although such acts used to be punishable by death. Britain’s Treason Act was written in 1351 and is still in force to this day – albeit with amendments which have been made over the centuries – but is not commonly used these days.

Here in North Carolina, we don't have a queen, but we actually have a greater sovereign ... the people. That's clearly established in Article I of our state constitution.

All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.

And so, this question must be asked: Should we, as a people, tolerate lying by our representatives? And if not outright lying, should we tolerate misleading?

No matter how you parse it, the actions by Speaker Tim Moore and his ruling party clearly rise to the level of misleading. Through a series of deceptive communications and trickery, Mr. Moore orchestrated a political stunt and overrode Governor Cooper's veto of the state budget. Call it what you will, but most people would agree it was sneaky and beneath what we expect from our elected representatives.

I believe the Governor, Democratic members of the House, the Attorney General, and We the People should escalate the matter in any way possible so that we get it in front of the NC Supreme Court urgently. And we should ask the Court to vacate the override vote because it was orchestrated through deception. Is there precedent for this kind of action? I don't think so ... except in Great Britain, where the precedent is fresh and clear: lying will not be tolerated.

Our state and our country have reached a tipping point, where lies and deception are being normalized. We desperately need to reset our expectations for government and insist that something as basic as truth-telling be adhered to. Only the NC Supreme Court can do that ... and that's exactly what should happen right now.

It's worth noting that Democratic Representative Darren Jackson has hinted that litigation is being considered. Speaker Moore responded with an ad hominem attack calling Jackson "ignorant."

“To think that a member of the House on a political question would want to involve the courts on the functions of the House,” Moore said. “It just shows a complete ignorance of the rules and the laws that govern the General Assembly.”

I suggest it is Tim Moore who is ignorant. He believes that lying should be allowed and that the courts have no say in the matter. He believe the General Assembly is above the law. Fortunately for the People, the courts are a co-equal branch of state government. They have wide authority to act in defense of the NC Constitution. This is not a political question, this is an ethical and moral question. It needs to be asked.




I just spent awhile looking up court actions in other states dealing with Legislatures, and couldn't find anything dealing with lying by elected officials. There's plenty of disputes between Governors and General Assemblies, but they mostly deal with separation of powers and such.

I also just finished reading the NC Constitution from top to bottom, and stumbled across this:

Sec. 8. Disqualifications for office.

The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

Second, with respect to any office that is filled by election by the people, any person who is not qualified to vote in an election for that office.

Third, any person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony against this State or the United States, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in any office, or any person who has been removed by impeachment from any office, and who has not been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.

If one lawmaker lying to another about the scheduling of an important vote isn't malpractice, I don't know what in the hell would be.

But it would still require legal action in a lower court to get it in front of the Supreme Court, because I also re-read this part:

Sec. 12. Jurisdiction of the General Court of Justice.

(1) Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction to review upon appeal any decision of the courts below, upon any matter of law or legal inference. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over "issues of fact" and "questions of fact" shall be the same exercised by it prior to the adoption of this Article, and the Court may issue any remedial writs necessary to give it general supervision and control over the proceedings of the other courts. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to review, when authorized by law, direct appeals from a final order or decision of the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Darren Jackson and/or the House Democratic Caucus should go ahead and file a lawsuit over this little parlor trick by the GOP. When all the details are scrutinized closely, and under oath, their bullshit will come apart right quickly, I would imagine.

Lewis the liar

Someone on Facebook said that the liar was representative Lewis. And that may be true. But the whole scheme was deceptive from the outset, and there’s no place for deception in good government. This shit needs to stop.

I'm told by lawyers I'm full of baloney

which is certainly true. I understand this kind of proposal is basically dead on arrival. But right now, litigation is the one place where Democrats get a say.

Even an opinion that says, "Nope. Lying is just fine." would be a political win.

NYT editorial on lying and misleading

The editorial could easily have been written about Tim Moore

It is one of the ironies of the rise of authoritarian movements in Western democracies that politicians who claim to be strengthening the foundations of democracy work so assiduously to undermine those foundations. So it was especially satisfying on Tuesday when Britain’s Supreme Court soundly and unanimously slapped down Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s brazen attempt at an end-run around Parliament to pull Britain out of the European Union.

The intervention of Britain’s highest court in the tradition-encrusted world of British politics was in itself extraordinary. Created only a decade ago, albeit on the venerable foundation of the House of Lords, the Supreme Court goes about its business without the powdered wigs and flowing robes of lesser courts. In fact, Baroness Brenda Hale, the president, wore a widely noted giant spider brooch when she gave the court’s judgment that Mr. Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament was “unlawful, void and of no effect.”

Lady Hale made it clear that she was aware of the moment: “The question arises in circumstances which have never arisen before and are unlikely to arise again,” she declared.

That may have been a mite optimistic, given the inordinate strains that the anguished debate over Brexit has put on the traditions, practices and conventions that make up Britain’s unwritten constitution. Yet until Mr. Johnson became prime minister in July, the rowdy debates and inconclusive votes at least stayed within the bounds of democratic rules. If there was deadlock, it was a reflection of a bitterly divided nation, and not a flawed political system.

Enter Mr. Johnson, a politician known for colorful speech and disdain for fact, and his Svengali-like adviser on Brexit tactics, Dominic Cummings. Determined to get Britain out of the European Union with or without a deal — the latter a plunge Mr. Johnson’s own government itself has depicted as potentially disastrous — they set about sidelining Parliament, which has repeatedly voted against a no-deal Brexit. Their gimmick was to ask Queen Elizabeth to “prorogue,” or suspend, Parliament, purportedly to prepare for the new prime minister’s agenda, but in fact to severely curtail the time available to debate Brexit before the current deadline for a deal, Oct. 31.

The brazen misuse of the device, including the lies fed to the queen that the reason for shutting Parliament down was to prepare for the start of a new legislative agenda, drew vehement denunciations, underscored when Mr. Johnson’s brother Jo Johnson quit Parliament and the cabinet citing “unresolvable tension” between family loyalty and national interest. Opponents of the measure quickly sued in Scotland and England, soon bringing the case before the Supreme Court.