More drama as the voting rights case escalates

Voter IDNearly 48 hours had passed since the Fourth Circuit ruled that certain provisions of the state’s new voting law — namely the elimination of  same-day registration and the prohibition on counting out-of-precinct ballots — likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and shouldn’t be implemented for the coming election.

And U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Schroeder had still not entered the required order blocking those provisions.

Plenty of other activity had followed.

The Fourth Circuit refused to stay its decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, forcing the state to file an emergency application to the nation’s highest court seeking that stay.  And Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency applications from this circuit, told the voting law’s challengers they had until Sunday at 5 p.m. to file papers opposing that stay.

But inexplicably, Judge Schroeder still hadn’t entered the order the Fourth Circuit directed him to enter “as swiftly as possible.”

That seeming intransigence led to an emergency request this morning by the law’s challengers, asking the appeals court to bypass Judge Schroeder and enter the order blocking the challenged provisions itself, saying that Schroeder had no intention of following the terms or the spirit of the Fourth Circuit decision.

Here’s an excerpt from that request:

Then, later on October 2, 2014, the District Court requested a telephonic status conference at 9 A.M. on October 3, 2014, to discuss “the court’s authority to enter an injunction.” Shortly after that conference was scheduled, Mr. Farr, attorney for the State, emailed the District Court’s clerk and all counsel to inform the Court that Defendants had filed an emergency stay application with the Supreme Court, and that responses were due on Sunday, October 5, at 5 P.M. At 8:46 A.M. today, the District Court then cancelled the conference, and asked the parties to “keep it informed of any appellate filings that may affect its authority to act as to these cases.” It is clear that the District Court does not intend to follow the direction of this Court.

Shortly after that filing, an order from Schroeder blocking enforcement of the specified provisions appeared on the docket.

Next move?

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