WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The US Supreme Court has decided not to review election laws passed in 2013 that critics and a federal appeals court have said are discriminatory.
“Today’s announcement is good news for North Carolina voters,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder – and the Court found this law sought to discriminate against African-American voters with ‘surgical precision.’ I will continue to work to protect the right of every legal, registered North Carolinian to participate in our democratic process.”
The NAACP and other groups sued the state and then Gov. Pat McCrory over the law that required photo ID to cast a ballot, reduced the early voting period, eliminated out-of-precinct voting, did away with same-day registration and voting and stopped pre-registration by 16-year-olds, arguing it violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
A federal district court dismissed the challenge after determining the plaintiffs had failed to establish either discriminatory impact or intent. But a federal appeals court reversed that ruling by finding “the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent.”
That led to a request by Republican state leaders for the US Supreme Court to review the case, but when Democrat Roy Cooper became governor and Josh Stein, another Democrat, became Attorney General, Stein moved to dismiss the case from the high court. That led Republican lawmakers in the state to argue the Attorney General cannot dismiss the case and the General Assembly has the right to hire outside counsel to defend the laws. Opponents disagree. That’s set off a legal battle that appears to have the US Supreme Court deciding to stay out of the debate for now.
Despite that fact, the justices say their abstention is not a decision on the case.
“Given the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in this Court under North Carolina law, it is important to recall our frequent admonition that ‘[t]he denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case,'” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court in the opinion released this morning.
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.”
“Republicans will continue to fight for common sense and constitutional voter ID measures, similar to what many other states already have,” Hayes continued. “While Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein have stymied voter ID for now, they will ultimately lose in their efforts to block North Carolina citizens from having these protections.”