* Alice Ollstein reports that the Republican voter suppression effort just suffered a major setback in North Carolina:
North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who narrowly unseated Republican Pat McCrory in November, announced Tuesday that he is reversing course in a major voting rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state will no longer defend a series of voting restrictions passed in 2013 by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by McCrory that a federal appeals court has ruled constitute unconstitutional “race-based vote suppression.”
Since 2013, the state has fought to implement a law that eliminated same-day voter registration, cut a full week of early voting, barred voters from casting a ballot outside their home precincts, scrapped straight-ticket voting, and got rid of a program to pre-register high school students who would turn 18 by Election Day. That law also included one of the nation’s strictest voter ID requirements.
The NAACP sued the state, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the civil rights group in a blistering ruling last July, holding that Republican lawmakers set out to suppress African-American voters “with almost surgical precision.”
That’s good news for the people of North Carolina, but there are efforts underway in Republican states all over the country to do basically the same thing. Meanwhile, Rick Hasen has some of the backstory right here.
* Noah Barkin reports that diplomacy in the Trump administration is…complicated:
In the week before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Brussels and pledged America’s “steadfast and enduring” commitment to the European Union, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met with a German diplomat and delivered a different message, according to people familiar with the talks.
Bannon, these people said, signalled to Germany’s ambassador to Washington that he viewed the EU as a flawed construct and favoured conducting relations with Europe on a bilateral basis.
Three people who were briefed on the meeting spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. The German government and the ambassador, Peter Wittig, declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the talks.
A White House official who checked with Bannon in response to a Reuters query confirmed the meeting had taken place but said the account provided to Reuters was inaccurate. “They only spoke for about three minutes and it was just a quick hello,” the official said.
Well, as long as we’re sending clear signals to the world so they know where America stands.
* Michelle Celarier reports that multilevel marketing companies — aka purveyors of pyramid schemes — are super-stoked about how the Trump administration is going to let them loose to do whatever they want.
* Michelle Goldberg surveys the emotional wreckage of life under Trump one month into his presidency.