Supreme Court declines to hear appeal backing N.C. voter ID law

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal to a recent lower court ruling that struck down a North Carolina voter ID law. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI

May 15 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the two-page ruling, noting the court’s decision not to hear the case should not be considered a judgment on the case’s merits.

“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 ‘the denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case,'” Roberts wrote.

The high court left in place a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the controversial 2013 law by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican who was defeated in November. The judge found that the state’s ballot restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling occurred before the November 2016 general election.

The legislation restricted voting and registration in five ways, which disproportionately affected black voters, the lower court decided. They required voters to present an approved form of photo identification before casting a valid ballot; cut early voting from 17 to 10 days; eliminated out-of-precinct voting; ended same-day registration and voting; and didn’t allow preregistration by 16-year-olds.

It would have taken four justices to consider the case. Last summer, the justices were divided 4-4 on a request to allow the law to go forward in the election.

The state’s new governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, had sought to dismiss the appeal.

“Today’s announcement is good news for North Carolina voters,” 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 Southern Coalition for Social Justice and American Civil Liberties Union also applauded Monday’s decision.

“This law, enacted with what the appeals court called discriminatory intent and ‘almost surgical precision’ targeting African-American voters, is meeting its much-deserved demise,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.”


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