A federal judge who temporarily halted the requirement of a photo ID to vote in North Carolina said lawmakers were at least partially motivated by racial discrimination when they implemented it, according to an injunction released Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Loretta C. Biggs for the Middle District of North Carolina wrote in the 60-page injunction that she looked to the state’s past for context about whether the voter ID constitutional amendment and subsequent implantation law, Senate Bill 824, would disenfranchise minority voters.
“The preliminary evidence demonstrates a clear likelihood that Plaintiffs will establish that discrimination was behind the law: S.B. 824 was enacted against a backdrop of recurring state-sanctioned racial discrimination and voter suppression efforts — both in the far and more recent past — and the state’s polarized electorate presents the opportunity to exploit race for partisan gain,” the document states. “While the sequence of events surrounding S.B. 824’s enactment were procedurally unobjectionable, the bill’s temporal proximity to H.B. 589, the fact that many of the same legislators shepherded and voted for both laws, and the potential that, were it not for unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps, the legislature would not have had the supermajorities necessary to place a constitutional amendment before voters or override the governor’s veto, indicate that something was amiss.”
The North Carolina NAACP sued Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Elections as soon as lawmakers passed SB 824. The injunction is pending that litigation. It’s not yet known if North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein will appeal Biggs’ (a Barack Obama appointee) injunction — his spokesperson, Laura Brewer, said Tuesday that his office was reviewing the order. Republican lawmakers have urged Stein’s office to appeal the injunction.
In addition to stopping voter ID efforts until further notice by the court, Biggs ruled that the defendants should halt any mailings informing voters they need a photo ID to vote and work with the local media, county boards of election and voter-education groups to inform voters about the injunction.
Read the full order below.