There are 83 pages to wade through — click here to do it yourself — but one thing is clear from the ruling today issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals: North Carolina’s “monster” voter suppression law has been struck down. These are the final two paragraphs of the court’s opinion:
“It is beyond dispute that “voting is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.” Ill. State Bd. of Elections v. Socialist Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173, 184 (1979). For “[n]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964). We thus take seriously, as the Constitution demands, any infringement on this right. We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.
We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court. We remand the case for entry of an order enjoining the implementation of SL 2013-381’s photo ID requirement and changes to early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration.”
In response to the ruling, the ACLU of North Carolina, which helped represent the plaintiffs, issued the following statement:
A federal appeals court today struck down North Carolina’s restrictive omnibus voting law in a sweeping victory for voting rights. The ruling blocks voter ID and restores preregistration, a week of early voting, same-day registration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the provisions restricting a week of early voting, same-day registration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.
“With surgical precision, North Carolina tried to eliminate voting practices disproportionately used by African-Americans. This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “It is a major victory for North Carolina voters and for voting rights.”
The groups filed the lawsuit in 2013, charging the law unduly burdens the right to vote and discriminates against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. A lower court upheld the law in April, prompting the Fourth Circuit appeal.
The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative, and several individuals.
“We applaud the appeals court for recognizing the discriminatory intent behind and effect wrought by the 2013 monster law. Because of this ruling, North Carolinians will now be able to register and vote free of the obstacles created by the Legislature in 2013,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice senior attorney Allison Riggs.