Supreme Court Rules on North Carolina Photo ID Controversy

The ruling was 8-1 in favor of Republicans’ right to litigate on behalf of voter ID laws.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The United States Supreme Court ruled that the leaders of the North Carolina Republican legislature can advocate for voter ID laws in court.
  • The 8-1 ruling allowed for the GOP lawmakers to represent the law due to their concern that the Democrat attorney general isn’t fighting hard enough to defend the law.
  • The dissidence within the state stems from the Democrat governor and attorney general allegedly not working hard to uphold the 2018 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that required a photo ID for voting in person.
  • The NAACP challenged the law in court, asserting that it was discriminatory against black and Latino voters and placed an undue burden on the right to vote.
  • The federal judge sided with the social interest group and issued an injunction to block the implementation of the law.
  • Currently, the law is still blocked. However, Republican lawmakers are now permitted to advocate for the measure before the state supreme court.
THE SUPREME COURT’S MAJORITY OPINION ON NC LEGISLATOR’S RIGHTS:
  • Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the majority opinion released on Thursday, which said that state legislators could defend the law: “Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge. North Carolina has expressly authorized the legislative leaders to defend the State‚Äôs practical interests in litigation of this sort,” said Gorsuch.
  • “State law provides that ‘[t]he Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, as agents of the State, by and through counsel of their choice, ‘shall jointly have standing to intervene on behalf of the General Assembly as a party in any judicial proceeding challenging a North Carolina statute or provision of the North Carolina Constitution,” Justice Gorsuch went on to say.
  • “Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it. Having satisfied the terms of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure … North Carolina‚Äôs legislative leaders are entitled to intervene in this litigation.”
BACKGROUND:
  • North Carolina’s state law is considered less strenuous than those in other states and is classified as “non-strict” by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • The law in question allows voters who show up at the polls without an ID to cast a provisional ballot, which would be counted if a qualifying ID is presented to the county board of elections.
  • Potential voters would also have their votes counted if they stated that a ‚Äúreasonable impediment‚ÄĚ prevented getting the required ID.