North Carolina appeals voter ID ruling to the Supreme Court

Posted at 8:10 PM, Aug 15, 2016

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory asked the Supreme Court Thursday night to freeze parts of a federal appeals court opinion from last month that struck key provisions of an omnibus election law and held that the law had been enacted with racially discriminatory intent.

“We have asked Chief Justice John Roberts to stay the Fourth Circuit’s ruling and reinstate North Carolina’s Voter ID law,” said McCrory in a statement.

McCrory said the “common sense law” — that includes a provision on Voter ID –“has been cited as a model and other states are using similar laws without challenges.”

The emergency request — directed to Roberts because he has jurisdiction over the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — comes more than two weeks after the appellate court issued a sweeping ruling in favor of challengers to the law. This unusual delay for an emergency request was most likely caused by the fact that the state has chosen to hire one of the best Supreme Court advocates in the country, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, to handle the appeal.

The North Carolina ruling, issued on July 29, was one of several victories in the last few weeks for challengers of voting restriction laws passed by Republican-led legislatures. For the most part, the courts are dealing with such challenges several months before the election because the Supreme Court has signaled that it does not like courts to make changes to voting laws too close to an election.

In Court papers, Clement said the appeals court opinion as a whole was “extraordinary” but he said because of the closeness of the election and a desire not to confuse voters, the state was asking for a stay for only three provisions concerning voter id, a cut back on early voting and pre-registration for 16 year olds.

In a blog post, election law expert Rick Hasen pointed out that because the state chose not to appeal parts of the opinion concerning same day voter registration and out of precinct voting, those provisions would be “back for this election.”

“This alone is a big win for plaintiffs,” Hasen wrote.

Clement said the lower court opinion prohibited the state “from enforcing a voter-ID law that is actually more sensitive to disparate impact concerns than those in force in many of its sister states, and simultaneously compelled North Carolina to reinstate several other voting practices that most other states do not permit at all.”