News Worms
News Worms

Supreme Court rejects appeal over NC voter ID law

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal filed by Republican legislators to overturn a lower court ruling that voiced the state's voter I.D. law. Along with the photo ID requirement, the state law curtailed early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration. Lawyers for the state legislature wanted to continue the appeal.

The N.C. law required that certain forms of government-issued photo identification cards be presented by voters, allowing for example driver's licenses, passports and military identification cards but not public assistance cards, giving ammunition to those who called it discriminatory.

Although the appeal was submitted by the former Republican state governor Pat McCrory, he has since been replaced by Democrat Roy Cooper-who has tried to withdraw the case. Critics had attacked the law as limiting minority voters' rights, while an appeal from the Fourth Circuit opinion claimed that the law targeted African Americans "with nearly surgical precision".

They cited comments from Chief Justice John Roberts released Monday when the justices denied the appeal.

Cooper and other Democrats praised the decision as a victory for the rights of minority voters and against attempts at discrimination, particularly by the GOP.

North Carolina legislators had requested data on voting patterns by race and, with that data in hand, drafted a law that would "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision", the court said. That ruling struck down the law's photo ID requirement and reduction in early voting.

The law, enacted by the Legislature in 2013, imposed an array of voting restrictions, including new voter identification requirements.

The North Carolina case marked the first official move by the Supreme Court relating to voting rights since Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's selection, took the bench.

Already this year, Arkansas, Iowa and North Dakota have approved voter ID laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The Texas case is making its way through the lower courts and could be the high court's next opportunity to weigh in.

In its ruling, the appeals court said the law was intentionally created to discriminate against black people. A ruling last summer by a three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law ahead of the November 2016 general election.

The battle against the law, considered one of the nation's most far-reaching, consumed years of litigation by the Obama administration and a wide coalition of civil rights organizations. In a statement, the chief justice wrote that the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case "imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case", meaning that if North Carolina or another state could pass a similar law, as the courts have not definitively proven that such a law is unconstitutional. Most of the number involved felons unable to vote because they had not completed their sentences.


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