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North Carolina Supreme Court Blocks Voter ID Law Over ‘Discriminatory Intent’

North Carolina’s top court has upheld the permanent block against a voter identification law, finding that lawmakers enacted it with “discriminatory intent.”

More African American voters lack the identification required under the law, Senate Bill 824, and a previous voter identification law was determined to be unconstitutional for that reason. That was part of the reason a panel of North Carolina judges used to conclude in September 2021 that Senate Bill 824 ran afoul of the equal protection clause in North Carolina’s Constitution. The clause states that “no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

In a narrow 4–3 ruling on Dec. 16, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld that earlier conclusion.

“We hold that the sequence of events leading up to S.B. 824’s passage supports the determination that S.B. 824 was enacted with the discriminatory intent to target African-American voters,” said Justice Anita Earls, writing for the majority. “In doing so, we do not conclude that the General Assembly harbored racial animus; however, we conclude just as the trial court did, that in passing S.B. 824, the Republican majority ‘targeted voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party.’”

Acceptable forms of identification include driver’s licenses, passports, and student IDs.

The law was enacted in late 2018, with supermajorities of Republican lawmakers in both legislative chambers overriding a veto of then-North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. The law came after voters approved a constitutional amendment to require voter identification.

Before its passage, several Democrats said data showed that a larger percentage of black voters than white voters lacked the identification allowed under the proposal, but their concerns didn’t result in any changes to the legislation.

Before the passage of the previous law, House Bill 589, lawmakers reviewed state data that showed more Democrat voters lacked the appropriate identification when compared to Republicans and that most of the Democrat voters were black.

Most of the same lawmakers who voted for House Bill 589 voted to override Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 824, the panel noted. It found that Republicans supported the bill “with limited analysis and scrutiny” in order to approve it before the party lost its supermajorities in the next session, a development that came because Democrats flipped a number of seats in the 2018 election.

Also counted against the defendants, including North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, were “limited Democratic involvement” in the bill, the rejection of many Democrat-proposed amendments, and a lack of intent to help address the racial differences in identification holders.

Defendants have argued that provisions that were included in the bill, such as ordering county boards of elections to issue voter identification cards for free upon request, undercut the claims in the case. But prospective voters would have to go to a different location than a voting place to obtain the IDs, which could prove burdensome, the panel found.

The majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court said their ruling shouldn’t be taken as saying that no voter identification requirement laws are allowed but that such laws should be less restrictive.

The majority was composed of Justices Robin Hudson, Samuel Ervin IV, Earls, and Michael Morgan.

All three Republicans on the court dissented from the new ruling.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Philip Berger Jr., joined by Justices Paul Newby and Tamara Barringer, said the legislature acted appropriately after voters approved a constitutional amendment.

“The plain language of S.B. 824 shows no intent to discriminate against any group or individual, and there is no evidence that S.B. 824 was passed with race in mind, let alone a racially discriminatory intent. The majority relies, as it must, on a misapplication of relevant case law and on its own inferences to reach a contrary,” Berger said.

He also noted that the new law enabled voters to vote without an ID if they produced a declaration that they suffered from a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining an acceptable form of identification.

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger said a new voter identification law will be passed in 2023.

“If Democrats on the state Supreme Court can’t respect the will of the voters, the General Assembly will,” he said in a statement.

Dan Blue, leader of the state Senate Democrats, said, “We need to go back to the drawing board and work in good faith to pass a voter ID law that will pass constitutional muster.”

Makeup to Change; Another Ruling

The new ruling comes as North Carolina’s Supreme Court makeup is set to change.

In the midterm elections, Republican lawyer Trey Allen beat Ervin.

An open seat was won by Republican Richard Dietz.

Republicans will soon hold a 5–2 majority.

In another 4–3 party-line opinion released just before the change, the majority blocked North Carolina’s remedial Senate map, finding that it unconstitutionally set boundaries to manipulate election results.

A remedial House map was approved, as was a congressional map.

In a dissenting opinion, Newby said the majority was trying to usurp the role of the legislative branch, which is charged with redistricting.

In an earlier ruling, he said, “The majority effectively amended the state constitution to establish a redistricting commission composed of judges and political science experts. When, however, this commission, using the majority’s redistricting criteria, reached an outcome with which the majority disagrees, the majority freely reweighs the evidence and substitutes its own fact-finding for that of the three-judge panel.”

59 Comments
  • Rita says:

    Wouldn’t the solution be to get ID’S for those who don’t have them? I guess North Carolina has a lot of low IQ people living there including in the legal system.

  • MBeached says:

    This is a bold-faced lie. I have heard this same “complaint” for the better part of 42 years Interestingly, the fact is that the affected people are not complaining to the extent the politicians purport. Also, as for the people that “cannot obtain a suitable ID” is another lie. How many of these individuals already have drivers license, social security cards, Medicaid and Medicare identification? How many own property or real estate with titles filed in the county seats? How many are receiving State and Federal aid? How many of these people served in the military? How many of these people attended public schools? All of these places require some form of identification.

    You cannot see a doctor without identification. You cannot board an airplane or a train or a bus without identification. You cannot receive a paycheck, have a bank account or write a will without proper identification. You cannot file taxes, receive refunds or live in government supported apartments without identification.

    You know who IS VOTING? Nursing home patients that are comatose, suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and those with mental diseases; and dead people. These are the people the Democrat Party wins elections with.

    All that is going on here is the liberals, once again, trying to divide the state or spreading propaganda to gain more votes. Stating that anyone in North Carolina is unable in some way to obtain proper Identification is down right lame, and is lying.

  • Tamirose170 says:

    Now with Identity Theft, we (legal Americans) need ID for practically everything – I don’t know of anyone that can survive without. You need a Photo ID to travel via air, most hotels request a copy of your Driver’s License when you rent a room, to cash a check, to buy alcohol or cigarettes If you appear under the age of 40, to pick up RX’s at ALL pharmacies (100% required for narcotics and certain scheduled medications), to pick up a package left at the Post Office, etc. You cannot even your spouse, in the ICU, CCU, when he was a patient in a Hospital without Photo ID. At the Lobby Desk, you are surrounded by Security personnel and forced to stand in a line; where when it is your turn, you surrender your photo ID, they swipe it into their computer, stand in front of a camera where they take your photograph and issue you a Visitors Sticker that includes your photo, to apply to your exterior clothing stating your name and which patient you are there to so (just happened to me this month at Tampa Bay General) In order to function in the USA, to prevent identity theft, you even need to show your Photo ID/Driver’s License at ALL Doctors’ offices and they photo copy it and match it to your Health Insurance after Obama’s massive wave of “Humanitarian efforts” came across our border w/o being processed properly – he circumvented the process and flew them directly across the border into NV and CA. Legit US citizens were receiving bills for medical services that they had never had – but a massive ring of Health Insurance Fraud flourished ~ There is a reason why most wallets and purses are designed to have a pocket/slip that holds your Driver’s License with a clear piece of plastic as protection because we show it on a daily basis and never once did we COMPLAIN that our Rights were being violated; because every time they ask – we appreciate and understand that there is a bigger picture forming and IF doing so would prevent more fraud and increase Security ~ then we were ALL for it. Only criminals complain about following a process that benefits us all as a Lawful Society and how would any skin color be able to function WITHOUT a proper photo ID? They cannot. The only reason to obstruct such a “check n balance” process of requiring a photo ID is clearly to DEfraud a system – – Democrats middle name! Gone are the days when a handshake was a contract; and people’s word encapsulated the premise of Trust & Integrity. IF the Democrat Party is fully against some request ~ you can sure that whatever you are recommending or requiring would upset their parties smooth ride they’ve enjoyed for far too long ~ called Fraud!

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