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Federal Judge Slams North Carolina Republican Legislature in Ruling Striking Down State's Voter ID Law

Federal Judge Slams North Carolina Republican Legislature in Ruling Striking Down State's Voter ID Law; North Carolina State Archives

As the 2020 election approaches, state laws aimed at voter suppression, gerrymandering and purging voters from the official rolls are gaining attention.

For those working to protect voter rights, a victory occurred in North Carolina Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs issued an injunction against the new voter ID law in North Carolina.

The state is ordered to:

"...not implement the new voter-ID requirements and stop any communications to the public that say a photo ID is required for all 2020 elections in the state."

In addition, they are ordered to mount a campaign to inform voters that they can vote in 2020 without an ID.

The lawsuit that is the basis of the injunction was filed by several chapters of the NAACP.

Judge Biggs wrote:

"Electoral integrity is enhanced, not diminished, when all eligible voters are allowed to exercise their right to vote free from interference and burden unnecessarily imposed by others."

She added:

"No one disputes that North Carolina 'has a long history of race discrimination generally and race-based vote suppression in particular."

One of the bill's sponsors, Republican State Senator Phil Berger, issued a statement in response to the ruling:

"It is absolutely ridiculous that the judge would accuse the bill sponsors - including an African American Democrat - of being racist. The voters saw the need for voter ID and approved the constitutional amendment."
"The legislature, acting on the will of the people, enacted one of the broadest voter ID laws in the nation. Now this lawsuit, and last-minute ruling, have sowed additional discord and confusion about the voting process.
"The judge prohibited the legislature from defending the law it wrote. The only parties the judge allowed to defend the law are Governor Roy Cooper's administration and Attorney General Josh Stein, both of whom oppose voter ID."
"As legislative leaders have said before, Attorney General Stein must appeal and move to stay this decision immediately, so the state can continue to move forward with the implementation of voter ID."

However the North Carolina NAACP president, Reverend Dr. Anthony Spearman, disagreed:

"The Federal Court made it crystal clear that racial discrimination will not stand in North Carolina in its decision today to intervene to halt this illegal photo voter ID impediment-the latest bad faith attempt in a string of failed efforts by the NC General Assembly to place hurdles in the path of the right to vote of African Americans and Latinos in this state, and to diminish the force of the true will of the people."
"This decision ensures that every eligible voter who participates in March 2020 should have their ballot counted free from this discrimination. We encourage every voter to use your voice and your ballot."
"When we fight, when we vote, when we stand up together, we win!"

The crux of the issue for Biggs was the forms of ID the GOP controlled North Carolina legislature deemed acceptable versus those they deemed unacceptable.

Forms of ID that African-Americans are statistically less likely to have were made acceptable under the GOP law. But forms of ID African-Americans are more likely to have were specifically disallowed by the Republican legislation.

Other voter ID laws across the United States have lost in judicial reviews for the same reason.