Editor's note: Sruthi Palaniappan is a Common Cause intern
Greater access to voting in North Carolina has been restored!
The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that a North Carolina voting law passed in 2013 is unconstitutional and discriminates against African-Americans. The ruling effectively sets aside the law, which imposed some of the nation’s tightest restrictions on voting rights.
The Supreme Court did not explain the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts simply stated that the Court’s decision was not a reflection on the merits of the issue.
Voting restrictions imposed by the law include additional voter ID requirements, a cutback of early voting from 17 days to 10 days, a ban on counting votes cast in the wrong precinct, and elimination of Election Day or “same-day” registration and of pre-registration of teenagers ahead of their 18th birthday.
Opponents of the law, including Common Cause, argue that some of its provisions, including a requirement for specific types of photo ID, were aimed at depressing African-American voter turnout. Evidence indicated that African-Americans are substantially less likely than whites to possess many of the approved IDs.
Civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the North Carolina law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The Supreme Court’s decision sends a powerful message to lawmakers that laws which discriminate and exclude certain groups cannot stand. It’s a great victory for the people of North Carolina and voting rights across the country.
Issues: Voting and Elections