Supreme Court Refuses to Hear North Carolina Voter I.D. Appeal

Another blow to voter identification laws.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal regarding a North Carolina voting law that a federal appeals court had struck down. The federal appeals court stated the law was an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The law rejected the forms of identification used disproportionately by blacks. This included I.D.’s issued to government employees, students, and people receiving public assistance.

Democrats and civil rights groups welcomed the announcement that the Supreme Court would not hear the case.

“An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing,” said Dale Ho, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Voting Rights Project.

Not over yet.

Leaders of North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature vowed that they would seek to enact new voting restrictions after their defeat. But their options will be limited by the appeals court decision. Any law would also face opposition from Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal.

“Today’s announcement is good news for North Carolina voters,” Mr. Cooper said in a statement. “We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder.”

The Supreme Court’s action set no precedent and will have no impact in most of the country.

The law imposed a range of voting restrictions which included new voter identification requirements. The case challenging the North Carolina law was brought by civil rights groups and the Obama administration. A trial judge rejected arguments that the law violated the Constitution and what remained of the Voting Rights Act. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court disagreed.

Five parts of the law drew ire from the panel: its voter ID requirements, a rollback of early voting to 10 days from 17, an elimination of same-day registration, and its ban on counting votes cast in the wrong precinct.

The court found that all five restrictions “disproportionately affected African-Americans.”

SCOTUS and voter identification laws.

The justices are likely to take a more definitive position on voting rights issues if they hear one of several cases that seem bound for the court. The most likely candidate is a lawsuit challenging Texas’ 2011 voter identification law. With accusations of voting fraud coming from as high up as the White House and America heading into a nasty mid-term election; it is safe to say that this will be far from the last word on the issue.

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