Steve Ford

Steve Ford

Steve Ford, former editorial page editor at Raleigh’s News & Observer, wrote this commentary for the North Carolina Council of Churches, which was first to publish it at

an illustration showing a vulture shaped like a gerrymandered district

Court rulings on “standing” help GOP to further entrench gerrymandered districts

By: - December 4, 2023

North Carolina’s new voting district maps were hatched in a way that brings to mind Macbeth’s calculation as he ponders murder: “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly: …” In other words, it’s a nasty piece of business but if it’ll solve the problem then just get […]

the North Carolina Legislative Building

After switch, they’re set to party hearty

By: - April 24, 2023

The forces in North Carolina’s General Assembly aligned with what typically are seen as progressive causes – including strong public schools, fair and adequate taxation, wide access to decent health care, racial justice, elections open to meaningful participation by all qualified voters – began the month of April with their hopes hanging by a thread. […]


North Carolina’s court of supreme do-overs

By: - March 29, 2023

High on the granite façade of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s headquarters across from the Capitol in downtown Raleigh is engraved what can be seen as an inspiring and enduring promise: “Law and Justice.” These days one has to wonder whether a footnote should be added, along the lines of “That Was Then, This Is […]


The 2023 legislative session: Out of the starting gate — sideways

By: - February 27, 2023

We weren’t expecting it to be pretty – “it” being the launch of the N.C. General Assembly’s new session, with freshly emboldened conservatives eager to flex their muscles. The reality, one month after things got under way, hasn’t failed to disappoint. Two themes stand out:


Veto showdowns and voter ID: Democracy will be on the defensive again at the legislature in 2023

By: - January 19, 2023

The N.C. General Assembly gathered on Jan. 11 amid trappings of ceremony and good cheer to kick off its 2023 session. Then reality reared its head: At least in the state House, the majority party apparently intends to play rough. Democrats in the minority are left to wonder if their Republican counterparts see them not as duly elected colleagues with whom they may disagree over this bill or that, but as enemies to be muzzled and marginalized.

Could election results spur an immediate reversal of a landmark state Supreme Court ruling?

By: - November 16, 2022

The North Carolina Supreme Court – or at least a slim majority of its members – invoked its solemn duty to uphold constitutional rights when it agreed in a Nov. 4 ruling that the state must spend more money to upgrade its system of public education. The General Assembly – or at least the Republicans who run things in the legislative branch’s mid-century modern temple in Raleigh – now is gearing up to invoke its solemn power to convince the court to buzz off.


Who decides on ‘sound basic’ spending? Stay tuned

By: - August 16, 2022

Like it or not – and there are plenty of reasons to worry amid the familiar end-of-summer bursts of excitement – another school year will soon get under way. The pressures on our public schools are immense as kids’ setbacks during the pandemic come into focus, as teacher vacancies spike, and as the schools become […]


GOP’s latest constitutional theory puts fair elections at risk

By: - July 6, 2022

Moore v. Harper case could upend decades of established constitutional law and endanger democracy The U.S. Supreme Court, as if rushing to settle old grievances, in recent weeks has thrashed about in a virtual frenzy of “originalism” – never mind the consequences for America’s civic well-being. Our federal Constitution neglects to confer a woman’s explicit […]

High stakes at the state’s highest court over school spending mandates

By: - April 13, 2022

The colossal dispute over the proper financing of North Carolina’s public schools that has played out over 28 years is heading to a showdown before the state Supreme Court. Yes, again. Sometime after April 18, the high court will decide whether the General Assembly is fulfilling its duty to ensure that the state’s public school students – and especially those in counties where poverty is endemic – have a fair chance to get an education good enough to meet the state constitution’s guarantees.


Fundamental rights are on the line as GOP seeks U.S. Supreme Court intervention in state gerrymandering case

By: - March 2, 2022

Four months after the N.C. General Assembly enacted a new alignment of the districts in which our state’s congressional representatives are chosen, the gavel has come down: That district map was so skewed to benefit the Republican Party that it violated voters’ rights under the state constitution. So declared the state Supreme Court in its […]

State judiciary must protect NC from its power-hungry legislature

By: - January 26, 2022

Among all the issues and challenges confronting North Carolina as 2022 gets under way – overcoming the pandemic, easing rural poverty, alleviating environmental threats, improving access to health care, on and on down the sobering list – it’s fair to say none is more urgent than shoring up our beleaguered public schools and strengthening citizens’ ability to participate meaningfully in our democracy.

In the face of sustained legislative neglect, it’s up to the courts to rescue North Carolina’s public schools

By: - November 23, 2021

In the rough and tumble realm of politics, it can be a hard call as to whether someone is standing firm on worthwhile principle or simply obstructing out of plain old bullheadedness – perhaps because it plays well among some voters. So let’s consider the example of North Carolina’s legislative leadership and its prickly response to a judge’s order in the epic Leandro school funding case.