House Speaker Thom Tillis apparently doesn’t much care for the democratic process, especially when people disagree with him.
Tillis had several dozen protesting citizens escorted off of the second floor of the Legislative Building in Raleigh recently after invoking an obscure, 25-year-old rule that says only those who are invited onto that floor can visit it. Curiously, that rule has never been used against the lobbyists who roam that floor every day the legislature is in session.
As a result, citizens who oppose Tillis and his politics were denied their First Amendment rights, as American citizens, to “petition their government for a redress of grievances.”
The protestors were peaceful and orderly, and they stood in what had been a public area since the building opened in 1963. In fact, Tillis himself met with protesters at that spot last year, but those protesters were tea-party Republicans with whom he agrees.
The bottom line, therefore, seems to be that those who agree with Tillis get to express themselves in the people’s house, and those who don’t get escorted out by legislative police.
Anyone who has watched the Tillis term as speaker should not be surprised. While we support him on this page in his strong commitment to finally compensating the sterilization victims, he hasn’t shown an equal level of commitment to democratic principles. He presided over a surprise, unannounced special session of the House earlier this year, meeting just after midnight, to punish teachers for opposing his party’s steep cuts to education.
And his Republican-led House has passed a redistricting plan that continues the tradition set by Democrats of drawing districts in which the politicians choose their voters, not the other way around.
Tillis has had a relatively short career in politics. He comes from the business sector, where employees often don’t disagree with the boss. So maybe more anti-democratic behavior is what we can expect from this speaker who says he’ll run our government like a business.