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North Carolina Supreme Court Votes 4-3 To Hear Voter ID Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Supreme Court gave Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina a win back in June in a fight over the state’s latest photo identification voting law.

In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the three-year-plus dispute over the voter ID law and held that legislative leaders in North Carolina can intervene in the federal case to defend the law.

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Now, the North Carolina state Supreme Court has voted 4-3 along party lines to hear oral arguments in October in a lawsuit challenging the state’s photo voter ID law.

“In light of the great public interest in the subject matter of this case, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this State, and the need to reach a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity, … [t]his case shall be scheduled for oral argument as soon as practicable, on a date to be determined during arguments scheduled the week of 3 October 2022, or by special setting no later than 18 October 2022,” Justice Robin Hudson, a Democrat, wrote in the order.

Writing for the Court’s three Republicans, Chief Justice Paul Newby wrote: “Once more, the majority expedites the hearing of a case where no jurisprudential reason supports doing so. Given the impending November elections, expedited hearing in October on this voter ID matter will likely cause voter confusion, … especially when this Court recently entered a decision in another case involving voter ID, N.C. NAACP v. Moore.”

“Additionally, the trial court’s permanent injunction in favor of plaintiffs remains intact,” Newby added. “Expedited consideration, therefore, will not provide plaintiffs any new relief that they do not already enjoy. Accordingly, nothing suggests that expedited hearing is necessary ‘[t]o prevent manifest injustice’ or to protect ‘the public interest.’”

“The state Supreme Court ruled in August that a trial judge should take another look at N.C. NAACP v. Moore, the case challenging the 2018 voter-approved referendum that enshrined voter ID as an amendment to the state constitution. The high court suggested that the trial court could nullify the voter ID amendment and another amendment that lowers the state’s income tax cap,” The Carolina Journal reported.

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“Friday’s order addresses a separate case, Holmes v. Moore. That suit challenges the law state lawmakers adopted to implement the voter ID constitutional requirement. With a 2-1 vote, a trial court panel threw out North Carolina’s voter ID law in September 2021. Unless that ruling is overturned, North Carolina cannot move forward with a photo ID requirement. Voter ID defenders appealed the trial court’s ruling to the N.C. Court of Appeals, but ID critics then asked the state Supreme Court to intervene,” the outlet added.

In July, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of counting undated mail-in ballots in a contested Pennsylvania local election.

The 6-3 ruling could create broader implications for close races in November’s crucial midterm elections.

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“Over the objection of three justices, the Court restored a federal appeals court ruling that said disqualifying ballots received on time but lacking a handwritten date on the return envelope would violate federal voting rights,” ABC News reported. “Pennsylvania state law requires that voters include a date next to the signature, even though mail ballots are typically postmarked and dated again by election officials when they are received. The appeals court concluded the absence of the handwritten date was an immaterial error.”

“The Supreme Court did not elaborate on its decision to allow counting to proceed, and it is not binding precedent. But it does suggest that a majority of justices support the view that discarding ballots over small administrative errors or omissions would harm the franchise,” the report added.

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In the dissent, conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch wrote they would have stayed the appeals court ruling in order to review the merits of the dispute, which he said “could well affect the outcome of the fall elections.”

Alito wrote that he believes the Third Circuit opinion is “very likely wrong.”

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