North Carolina justices hand GOP big win with election rulings

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In massive victories for Republicans, the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday threw out a previous ruling against gerrymandered voting maps and upheld a photo voter identification law that colleagues had struck down as racially biased.

The rulings likely give the GOP-controlled legislature the ability to rework the state’s congressional map for next year’s election to help Republicans gain seats in the narrowly divided U.S. House. Under the previous map, Democrats won seven of the state’s 14 congressional seats last November.

The new edition of the court, which became a Republican majority this year following the election of two GOP justices, ruled after taking the unusual step of revisiting opinions made in December by the court’s previous iteration, when Democrats held a 4-3 seat advantage. The court held rehearings in March.

Friday’s 5-2 rulings also mean that state lawmakers should have greater latitude in drawing General Assembly seat boundaries for the next decade, and that a photo ID mandate approved by the GOP-controlled legislature in late 2018 could be enforced in time for the 2024 elections.

In another court decision Friday along party lines, the justices overturned a trial court decision on when the voting rights of convicted felons can be restored. That means potentially tens of thousands of people convicted of felonies will have to keep waiting to completed their probation or parole or pay their fines to qualify to vote again.

(WWAY) — House Speaker Tim Moore was a party to one of the lawsuits that came before the justices. He released a statement saying:

“The decisions handed down today by the NC Supreme Court have ensured that our constitution and the will of the people of North Carolina are honored. Nearly five years after the voters of this state overwhelmingly voted in favor of photo ID at the polls, it has finally become the law of the land. We will fulfill our constitutional duty to redraw state house, senate and congressional maps.”

Attorney General Josh Stein called the ruling quote “A devastating blow to democracy,” adding:

“Our constitution is supposed to be a check on the power of the legislature. But these Republican justices have surrendered that role, taking power away from the people and giving it to an out-of-control gerrymandered Republican supermajority in the legislature. I will not stop fighting so the voters choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger released a statement saying:

“For years plaintiffs and activist courts have manipulated our constitution to achieve policy outcomes that could not be won at the ballot box. Today’s rulings affirm that our Constitution cannot be exploited to fit the political whims of left-wing Democrats.”

Governor Roy Cooper disagreed in a tweet which says in part, quote — “The Republican State Supreme Court has ignored the Constitution and is destroying the court’s reputation for independence.”

Categories: Associated Press, NC, NC-Carolinas, News, Top Stories, US