A North Carolina court has blocked a voter identification law in the state, claiming that it was intended to target and disenfranchise African-American voters.
The law, SB 824, was passed in 2018, but had been under a preliminary injunction by North Carolina’s Court of Appeals, who said that it may negatively impact black voters.
On Friday, a three judge panel ruled that the law “was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.”
“Other, less restrictive voter ID laws would have sufficed to achieve the legitimate nonracial purposes of implementing the constitutional amendment requiring voter ID, deterring fraud, or enhancing voter confidence,” Superior Court Judges Michael O’Foghludha and Vince Rozier wrote in the ruling.
Southern Coalition for Social Justice co-executive director and chief counsel for voting rights Allison Riggs and pro bono counsel Andrew Ehrlich, the attorneys representing a group of North Carolina voters in the lawsuit, told CNN that they “hope” the ruling sent “a strong message that racial discrimination will not be tolerated.”
“Today’s ruling striking down North Carolina’s latest unconstitutional photo voter ID law is a testament to the overwhelming evidence, including compelling stories of disenfranchisement from voters themselves, which highlighted how the state’s Republican-controlled legislature undeniably implemented this legislation to maintain its power by targeting voters of color,” the attorneys said in a statement.
Republican leaders in the state have slammed the court and their decision — and have vowed to appeal.
Sam Hayes, general counsel for North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, issued a scathing statement about the decision — and the “liberal judges.”
“Once again, liberal judges have defied the will of North Carolinians on election integrity. Voters of this state have repeatedly supported a voter ID requirement – going so far as to enshrine it in our state constitution. Senate Bill 824 is one of the most generous in the country, and it was modeled on those of other states. At trial, Plaintiffs could not produce a single witness who would be unable to vote because of the law,” Hayes said in the statement.
He continued, “In his dissent, Judge Poovey noted that “[n]ot one scintilla of evidence was introduced during this trial that any legislator acted with racially discriminatory intent.” In fact, the bill was co-sponsored by African-American State Senator Joel Ford. This fight is far from over. We look forward to appealing this partisan ruling on behalf of the people of North Carolina.”
North Carolina state Sen. Paul Newton also vowed that they will be appealing the decision in a statement.
“For all their talk about a secure democracy, the left, with an able assist from the judiciary, is doing their best to undermine it. Today, a partisan court blocked the will of a majority of North Carolinians who amended their Constitution to require photo voter ID,” Newton said.
“The Republican-led legislature has made incredible strides to increase confidence in elections, and Democrats continue to use the judicial branch to thwart the will of the majority of North Carolinians. We will appeal this case,” he said.
A majority of 56 percent of North Carolina voters supported the legislation.