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Supreme Court rejects bid to revive North Carolina voter ID law
16 May 2017, 07:02 | Cynthia Sparks
It "contained measures (1) requiring voters to present an approved form of photo identification before casting a valid ballot; (2) reducing the early voting period from 17 to 10 days; (3) eliminating out-of-precinct voting; (4) eliminating same-day registration and voting; and (5) eliminating preregistration by 16-year-olds", the ruling states. In a brutal finding previous 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.
Shortly before President Donald Trump took office in January, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to reject the North Carolina appeal.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the court's decision not to hear the appeal had nothing to do with its opinion on the legislation.
For now, the decision is a victory for opponents of the North Carolina law.
The ruling stated the voter ID law was passed with discriminatory intent. "As the Supreme Court discussed whether to hear the case, the state under a new Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, asked to withdraw the appeal".
The ACLU and other plaintiffs had lost their initial challenge to the voter restrictions when a trial judge found they did not violate the U.S. Constitution, but won on appeal in the 4th Circuit Court.
For instance, legislators cut back early voting to eliminate the days African-American were most likely to vote early, and when it came to the ID requirements, "With race data in hand, the legislature amended the bill to exclude numerous alternative photo IDs used by African-Americans".
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.
Despite this important legal victory, North Carolina remains a cautionary tale for how low Republicans will stoop to suppress the vote.
Myrna Perez, a lawyer at the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law that has challenged the Texas law, said the Supreme Court is likely to take up that case or a similar dispute from Wisconsin.
Roberts' opinion accompanying the Court's decision not to hear this case leans heavily on all the messiness created by Stein seeking to dismiss the petition and the legislature trying to keep him from doing so.
NCGOP Chair Robin Hayes said in statement Cooper and Stein "have blocked the people's desire for voter ID and other common sense voting protections". The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge, observing that North Carolina lawmakers had enacted the law against the backdrop of the state's "sordid history" of official racial discrimination "dating back well over a century". Most of the number involved felons unable to vote because they had not completed their sentences.
The Supreme Court will soon rule on a case about whether the state's congressional districts were racially gerrymandered, as a lower court found.
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