Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Another Judicial Blow Against Voter I.D. in North Carolina

The requirement to present photo I.D. at the polls had already been enjoined by a federal court at least for the 2020 primaries (going on right now), but just today, the completely separate state court system has likely outlawed it for this November too.

The Federal Lawsuit (NAACP v. Cooper)

Last New Year's Eve, federal district court Judge Loretta Biggs issued an injunction against implementation of NC's voter photo I.D. law. In a 60-page ruling that dug deep into the long history of black voter suppression in North Carolina, Judge Biggs wrote that parts of the new voter ID law “were impermissibly motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent.” It’s impossible to ignore, Biggs said, the state’s history of politicians' violating the rights of minorities for political gain, since “race and party are inexorably linked” in North Carolina.

Biggs' injunction covered at least the March primary -- no I.D. required to vote -- but was up in the air so far as the November General Elections were concerned, "since it’s possible this issue could go to trial before then." That would be the federal trial in the matter of NAACP v. Cooper et al., a suit brought against the state's executive branch, including the state Board of Elections, and to which the Republicans in the General Assembly, who wrote the law, are not parties.

The State Lawsuit (Holmes v. Moore)

Meanwhile, a completely different suit against voter photo I.D., Holmes v. Moore, was advancing in the state courts. Heard first by a three-judge panel last June, which denied an injunction against the law, the case reached the Court of Appeals on January 22, which today issued an injunction against implementation of voter photo I.D. probably through November ("probably" because this injunction is temporary until the case goes to trial, and it's unlikely a trial could happen before November).

Racial discrimination is also the issue in Holmes v. Moore (in which the Republican overlords in the General Assembly are very much defendants (unlike the federal case). Based on the evidence they’ve seen so far, Appeals Court judges Toby Hampson, Allegra Collins, and John Arrowood said "it appears the legislature will lose in its defense of the law." The voting rights activists who sued appear likely to be able to prove “that discriminatory intent was a motivating factor behind” the voter ID law.

Republicans can't ever stop chewing that bone. Because, surely the South will rise again, and you can't rise without stepping on a few people, amirite?

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