Last July, a federal appeals court threw out those restrictions, declaring that the legislature had targeted African-American voters, quote, “with nearly surgical precision”, and that it did so after receiving data specifically showing that disproportionate impact on minority voters.
The state’s new Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, and its Democratic attorney general, Josh Stein, had told the justices they wanted to drop the state’s appeal of the 4th Circuit ruling. In a brutal finding past year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law, in a blockbuster ruling that declared the state Legislature had acted with discriminatory intent when adopting the law, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. “We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder”.
I believe that the North Carolina voting rights case was not a clean enough headshot for what these people want to do, and so the Supreme Court punted while John Roberts begged for a better case.
“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.
Last summer the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the judge’s ruling, holding that the state legislature had passed the law with discriminatory intent.
As Diana Gibbon Motz of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote: “Although the new provisions target African Americans with nearly surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist”.
Shortly before President Donald Trump took office in January, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to reject the North Carolina appeal.
A pile of government pamphlets explaining North Carolina’s controversial “Voter ID” law sits on table at a polling station as the law goes into effect for the state’s presidential primary in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. on March 15, 2016.
A man votes in November in Durham, N.C. The U.S. Supreme Court had refused to reinstate strict voter restrictions in time for Election Day. The leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly want to implement what they call a “commonsense requirement” to show a photo ID when voting. North Carolina GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse emailed Republican members of county election boards, calling for “party line changes to early voting”.
Since then, more than a dozen states have enacted voter restriction laws that critics claim are thinly-veiled attempts to suppress individuals – often minorities – from casting ballots. Proponents of voter-restriction laws have long argued they are meant to stop voter fraud and other abuses.
Critics said the commission would justify voter suppression efforts, while state election officials are anxious it could “divert attention from other serious concerns, such as aging equipment and the threat of hacking”, she wrote.
Civil liberties groups on Monday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal. Roberts said the refusal wasn’t a judgment on the court’s view about the law’s substance.