The Supreme Court on Monday denied cert in an appeal from the state of North Carolina over a voter ID bill that lower courts ruled had intentionally targeted racial minorities for discrimination to prevent them from voting. That appeals court ruling will stay in place and the law cannot be enforced.
The Supreme Court will not consider reinstating the 2013 North Carolina voting law that a lower court ruled discriminated against African American voters, the justices said Monday.
A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had found in 2016 that North Carolina legislators had acted “with almost surgical precision” to blunt the influence of African American voters.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took pains to note that the high court’s decision did not reach the merits of the case, but Democrats, civil rights groups and minority groups celebrated the demise of the law.It was one of numerous voting rights changes passed by Republican-led legislatures after the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. That decision effectively removed federal oversight of states with a history of discrimination.
“This is a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
The 4th Circuit on July 29 agreed with allegations from the Justice Department and civil rights groups that North Carolina’s bill selectively chose voter-identification requirements, reduced the number of early-voting days and changed registration procedures in ways meant to harm African Americans, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party.
The appeals court did not allow the law to be used in the 2016 election, and voters replaced the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, with Democrat Roy Cooper.
As Chief Justice Roberts notes, this is not necessarily a sign of how the court would have ruled had they decided the case on the merits. The court only accepts about 1% of the cases seeking appeal each year. But it at least invalidates the law in one state. Only a couple dozen more to go.