SCOTUS rejects appeal over NC voter ID law

16 May, 2017, 09:08 | Author: Ora Austin
  • The Supreme Court

In a victory for voting rights advocates, the Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from North Carolina's Republican leaders and let stand a decision that struck down their 2013 law that added new restrictions on voting.

Cooper and the state's new Democratic attorney general, Josh Stein, told the Supreme Court they did not want to appeal the lower court's decision that the law violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

In addition to requiring voter ID, the North Carolina law cut back early voting days from 10 days to 17, eliminated same-day registration and pre-registration for teenagers.

The court unanimously declined to hear an appeal of the 4 Circuit's decision that North Carolina's 2013 voting law discriminated against African American voters "with nearly surgical precision".

Then-Gov. Pat McCrory sought Supreme Court review of the 4th Circuit's decision, but in February newly installed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Stein asked the court to drop the case.

North Carolina's GOP Chairman Robin Hayes is confident the legislature will move "very quickly" to pass a new law that reflects the "monster" voting bill's premise. He noted that although the court declined to hear the case, the refusal expresses no opinion about the merits of the issue. Some state have similar election practices, the group said, but that fact "cannot save or protect voting restrictions that are adopted with racial intent". McCrory is a Republican.

"This is a victory against voter suppression and should send a message to other states that such extreme and racially discriminatory laws will be struck down", Janai Nelson, associate director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. "We need to make it easier to vote, not harder", said Cooper in a statement on Twitter Monday.

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The appeals court found that the law's provisions "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision" and "impose cures for problems that did not exist", concluding that the Republican-led legislature enacted it "with discriminatory intent".

North Carolina Republicans included these provisions even though nobody has ever been charged with in-person voter fraud in the state.

"It is disappointing that the Supreme Court did not accept for review an obviously wrong decision by a 4th Circuit panel that doesn't follow the court's own precedent and other decisions on voter ID by other federal courts", said Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Chief Justice John Roberts, however, was keen to communicate that the North Carolina law itself was not the reason for the Supreme Court's declining to hear it on Monday.

The ACLU, along with other civil rights groups, had challenged the law, which was passed in the wake of the high court's decision in Shelby v. Holder. The law had been amended in 2015 to include a method for people unable to get a photo ID to still vote.

According to the report, 100,258 North Carolinians used same-day registration in the November election, an increase from the 97,100 who used the process in the 2012 general election.

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