This story has been updated to reflect Republican General Assembly leaders’ response.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein have taken steps to withdraw North Carolina’s request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the monster voting law struck down last summer by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case is North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and appellate judges found that the omnibus voting restrictions law sought to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision” to limit access to the ballot box.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration joined in petitioning the nation’s highest court in December to hear the case. Justices are expected to review the writ of certiorari at its March 3 conference.
There has been speculation over the last several weeks about Cooper and Stein’s ability to change the course of the case and protect voter rights, but their offices had not addressed the issue until today.
This morning, the Governor’s General Counsel and Chief Deputy Attorney General jointly sent a letter discharging outside counsel in the case on behalf of the State. Also today, the Governor’s Office and the NC Department of Justice formally withdrew the State and Governor’s request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision.
After the Governor’s Office and N.C. Department of Justice withdraw, the State Board of Elections, its individual members, and its Executive Director will remain in the case for the time being.
“We need to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder, and I will not continue to waste time and money appealing this unconstitutional law,” Governor Cooper said. “It’s time for North Carolina to stop fighting for this unfair, unconstitutional law and work instead to improve equal access for voters.”
“The right to vote is our most fundamental right,” said AG Stein. “Voting is how people hold their government accountable. I support efforts to guarantee fair and honest elections, but those efforts should not be used as an excuse to make it harder for people to vote.”
Legislative leaders House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger responded by criticizing Cooper and Stein and said the voter suppression law is “hugely popular.” You can read their full press release here.
“Roy Cooper’s and Josh Stein’s desperate and politically-motivated stunt to derail North Carolina’s voter ID law is not only illegal, it also raises serious questions about whether they’ve allowed their own personal and political prejudices and conflicts of interest to cloud their professional judgment. We expect the courts to reject this unethical stunt just as they did when Cooper tried the same trick in the ‘Choose Life’ license tag case.”