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Payne's intention isn't what's relevant here. As he notes, the county BOE merely implements election laws enacted by the state or federal governments. The county BOE isn't being sued over its implementation of the law. If it were, then it would have to be more involved in the suit.

The subject of the lawsuit is the law itself, and the county BOE is being sued because it's the implementing agent and is therefore the entity that would be affected by an injunction, if one is issued.

So I think the defense of this lawsuit was always going to be the state's responsibility. Which of course leads to your question about how the AG's office will play this.

Is there anything concrete that prohibits Payne from defending the law?

You'd have to find a lawyer or someone at the School of Government to answer that. But the county certainly has no interest in defending the law... or opposing it, for that matter.

The county's job is to implement and enforce whatever election laws are on the books, period. If the lawsuit fails and HB263 remains state law, the county will (and should) implement it. If the lawsuit wins, the county will (and should) go back to implementing the status quo ante.

Andrew, I think the Republican majority on the Board of County Commissioners has an acute interest in assuring that Greensboro does not have corrupt machine government. After all, that holds back the entire county, and the entire metro area. So I hope they direct Payne to defend the new law vigorously.

I am not sure whether that will happen, because some Melderec sympathies probably exist among the Republicans on the Board of County Commissioners.

No, the county has no such "interest." You're free to hold out hope about government and policy, but actual governments are limited to doing what their actual jobs are. From the N&R:

"Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne is representing the elections board in the lawsuit. He said Tuesday that he and the board will not take a position on the constitutionality of the new law, but will speak only to whether and how it can be implemented."

That's obviously the way it should be. As long as the law in question is the law, the county will "defend" it, by implementing it. But it's not the county's job to defend the law itself.


Your opinion is noted, Andrew, but I hope someone will defend the law earnestly and vigorously. My opinion is that the county has an interest in reducing corrupt machine government in its biggest city.

The difference is that unlike yours, my "opinion" is rooted in how governments actually operate. Yours is rooted in right-wing wishful thinking.

In any case, my prediction is that someone will defend the actual law (not merely its implementation) in court. After all, if the state doesn't step in to do so, there will be no one defending it and that will certainly increase the chances of the city winning the lawsuit.

Your original question was whether the AG will defend the law, and I agree -- that's a darned good question. But the GA passed this bill and the GA is the entity with an interest in defending it. If the AG doesn't exert the effort the GA believes he should, I'm sure the GA will try to do something about it.

Once again, I appreciate your opinion, Andrew. But the NCGA defending against the suit would be best because Payne (and his employers) apparently don't want to do it.

I guess it's nice that you appreciate it, but you clearly don't understand what I've said.

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