SCOTUS declines to review discriminatory North Carolina voter ID law

Before the 2013, 5-4 Shelby decision, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Voting Rights Act barred nine states with a history of discrimination against minority voters, including North Carolina, from passing new voting laws without federal approval.

Just before Trump took office, the Justice Department also urged the Supreme Court to reject the North Carolina appeal.

The court's action sets no legal precedent, but it likely ends the litigation over the North Carolina law.

"The District Court clearly erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence, all of which supports a finding of discriminatory intent", U.S. Circuit Judge Diana Motz wrote for the court's three-judge panel.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called the Supreme Court's move "a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color". For instance, in North Carolina, with its voter ID law in limbo, the 2016 election saw a grand total of one case of voter impersonation, out of 4.8 million votes cast.

The state, for example, did not simply enact a voter ID provision - a common method of voter suppression - but also "amended the bill to exclude numerous alternative photo IDs used by African Americans", while simultaneously retaining "only the kinds of IDs that white North Carolinians were more likely to possess".

"The General Assembly seeks to reverse course at the eleventh hour", the attorneys representing the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups wrote in a brief, adding "the court should not reward these tactics and prolong a case where every party has decided not to pursue an appeal".

Among the ample research exploring the impact of voter ID laws, the Washington Post performed a study looking at the spread of this kind of legislation across the country throughout the past decade, primarily in Republican-held jurisdictions. "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".

"Today's announcement is good news for North Carolina voters", Gov. Roy Cooper said. North Carolina's law was one of a number of similar statutes passed by Republican-controlled states. Almost three years ago, the justices declined to review a similar decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court holding that a photography studio violated the state's anti-discrimination laws when it refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. "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, '" the governor said in his statement.

Per custom, the Supreme Court did not offer an official reason for their decision not to hear the case.

The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal to restore North Carolina's controversial voter laws, knows as the 2013 Voter Identification Verification Act (VIVA). Democrats have said such laws are voter suppression measures meant to make it harder for groups that tend to back Democratic candidates, including black and Hispanic voters, to cast ballots.

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