Published: Tue, May 16, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Supreme Court won't rescue NC voter ID law

Supreme Court won't rescue NC voter ID law

Republicans suffered a major blow as the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal to its earlier decision gutting North Carolina's racially discriminatory voter ID law.

Private lawyers who had worked with McCrory claimed they represented North Carolina's Republican led General Assembly, and not the Governor, after the Democratic Gov. Cooper took office.

In a blistering decision last July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the state legislature explicitly set out to discover the kind of accommodations that minority voters use most often and then to roll back or eliminate them, targeting African Americans "with nearly surgical precision".

After Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican Patrick McCrory to became North Carolina governor in January, Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein asked the court to dismiss the state's petition seeking Supreme Court review.

Among the ample research exploring the impact of voter ID laws, the Washington Post performed a study looking at the spread of this kind of legislation across the country throughout the past decade, primarily in Republican-held jurisdictions.

One could easily read a not-so-hidden message from the Chief Justice: I'm only deciding not to hear this case because doing so would raise a thicket of procedural side-issues that we don't want to have to address, but don't think for a minute that I agree with the Fourth Circuit.

"Republicans will continue to fight for common sense and constitutional voter ID measures, similar to what many other states already have", Hayes continued.

"We are grateful that the Supreme Court has made a decision to allow the Fourth Circuit's ruling to stand, confirming that discrimination has no place in our democracy nor our elections", she said.

When the passed the law, lawmakers said it would cut costs and prevent vote fraud.

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North Carolina Chairman Robin Hayes reacts to a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court not to take on a voting rights case.

As important as this victory is-and it is extremely important-we also should remember that the Supreme Court didn't uphold the Fourth Circuit's decision, but only chose not to consider the appeal.

The law was criticized for enacting rules that appeared created to sideline African American voters, such as reducing the time period for early voting, prohibiting voters from registering on the day of the election, and forcing them to present certain types of photo ID. The law had been amended in 2015 to include a method for people unable to get a photo ID to still vote.

But the conservative Heritage Foundation said it was "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".

Needless to say, activists, civil rights groups and even the Obama administration quickly got involved, filing lawsuits against the new laws.

North Carolina's attorney general is not defending the law.

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.

Previously, in September, a deadlocked Supreme Court turned down an emergency pre-election request from state officials to block the appeals court's ruling.

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