On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a statement saying that they would be leaving in place a decision by the 4th Circuit Court that voided a 2013 North Carolina law requiring a photo ID to be presented to vote, restricted early voting, and ended same-day registration in the state.
The law was passed by North Carolina’s GOP-led General Assembly in 2013 and upheld last year by a Bush-appointed district judge. However, the 4th Circuit ruled that the law was intended to discriminate on racial grounds and reversed the law.
After Justice Scalia died last year, the Supreme Court seemed deadlocked on the measure. But even with Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch, the high court has not overturned the decision. However, Chief Justice John Roberts issued a statement saying that the Supreme Court was not taking on the case because it is unclear whether or not North Carolina’s newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper had the right to overrule the legislature in asking the Supreme Court to rule on the case:
“Given the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in this Court under North Carolina law, it is important to recall our frequent admonition that ‘[t]he denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case.'”
Punting on the issue though, does not keep other states from passing similar laws. Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, North Dakota, Montana, and Texas have already taken steps this year to restrict voter access, with several other states not far behind.
Even after the 4th Circuit Court struck down the law, the GOP in North Carolina took measures to keep African-Americans away from the polls. North Carolina GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse emailed Republican members of county election boards, calling for “party line changes to early voting.”
The changes championed by the GOP in North Carolina included eliminating early voting locations on college campuses and ending Sunday early voting hours, which were popular with African-American Churches. The racist effect was clear. According to The Nation:
Black turnout decreased 16 percent during the first week of early voting because of long lines and fewer polling places. The North Carolina GOP bragged before Election Day that “African American Early Voting is down 8.5% from this time in 2012. Caucasian voters early voting is up 22.5% from this time in 2012.”
Along with the racist voter ID laws, the Republican redrawing of district lines in 2010 have had a profound effect on the political makeup of the country.