SCOTUS Rejects Review of North Carolina Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Today, the US Supreme Court rejected hearing an appeal to the Fourth Circuit's ruling striking down several key components of North Carolina's controversial voter ID law, passed last year. Last summer, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 5 key components, including the voter ID provisions, were unconstitutional and could not be enforced. Since SCOTUS refused to hear the appeal, the Fourth Circuit's ruling stands.

Although the voter ID law was upheld by the lower District Court, on appeal, the court found that lawmakers targeted African American voters ' with almost surgical precision.' Additionally, the appeals court found that the voter ID law was an attempt to 'impose cures for problems that did not exist.'

Discriminatory Provisions Struck Down

In addition to the voter ID provisions, the appeals court also rejected regulations that shortened the time for early voting, banned counting votes cast in the wrong precinct, banned preregistration of teenagers and same day registration. These provisions were found to have a disparate impact on African American voters.

Surprisingly, the court found that North Carolina could not point to single instance of a person being charged with in-person voter fraud, yet for some reason, the new voter ID law was meant to protect against exactly this "problem." Despite there actually being evidence of absentee voter fraud in the state, the Court of Appeals significantly noted that the new voter ID law excluded absentee voting, which gets used by white voters more than any other demographic.

Voting Restrictions

Under the Voting Rights Act, and other legislation, states may not impose restrictions on voting that are discriminatory. For example, voter ID laws can frequently have a discriminatory impact if the types of permissible identifications are not broad enough to include, or exclude, types of identification that a distinct group is more likely to have.

However, in 2013, a portion of the Voting Rights Act, which required nearly a third of states to get federal approval of any new voting laws, was struck down by the Supreme Court. Fortunately, the change to the law does not prevent discriminatory state laws restricting voting from being challenged in court under the Voting Rights Act.

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