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North Carolina's Voter ID Law Is Dead

20 May 2017, 10:10 | Gladys Abbott

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Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to NC voter ID law ruling

The appeals court found that the law's provisions "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision" and "impose cures for problems that did not exist", concluding that the Republican-led legislature enacted it "with discriminatory intent".

"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", Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, noted in a statement.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Supreme Court shut the door Monday on North Carolina Republicans' effort to revive a state law that mandated voter identification and scaled back early voting, provisions that a lower court said improperly targeted minority voters.

Roberts filed a two-page statement along with the denial to hear the appeal, explaining how the choice was motivated by a freakish political situation caused by "uncertainty over who is authorized to seek review of the lower court ruling", Fox reported. He said the court had received a "blizzard of filings" on that issue.

Last summer, Roberts and the court's other conservatives - Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. - said they would have allowed the law to be used in the 2016 elections while the appeals continued.

Keeping with custom, the Supreme Court did not announce why the appeal would not be heard, and that the refusal did not reflect on its merits.

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As is the court's usual custom, no explanation was given for turning down the appeal, and no vote was noted.

Critics of voting-rights laws expressed relief. The 4th Circuit ruling highlighted how North Carolina's law had restrictions of procedures that heavily affect African Americans to the benefit of one political party and to the disadvantage of the other. A trial judge rejected arguments that the law violated the Constitution and what remained of the Voting Rights Act.

Republican leaders in the Tar Heel State had appealed to the nation's highest bench after a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit unanimously ruled previous year that portions of the 2013 law were racially discriminatory and unconstitutional. Then-Republican Governor Pat McCrory lost his bid for reelection and was replaced by Democrat Governor Roy Cooper. NC NAACP commemorates 51st anniversary of Voting Rights ActShortly before Trump took office in January, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to reject the North Carolina appeal.

The Obama administration and civil rights groups challenged the North Carolina law. That decision was decried as having "sounded the death knell" for a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. A federal trial judge had upheld the law.

The law was passed by North Carolina's GOP-led General Assembly in 2013 and upheld previous year by a Bush-appointed district judge. However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the state had provided no evidence of the in-person voter fraud that the ID would actually address. "This ruling sends a strong message that lawmakers in North Carolina should stop enacting laws that discriminate based on race", said Allison Riggs, senior staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, one of the groups that challenged the law.

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