The Supreme Court delivered a win Thursday for Republicans in North Carolina over a voter identification law that has been in dispute for nearly four years.
The court ruled 8-1 that legislative leaders in the state can intervene in a federal lawsuit to defend a law mandating voter ID. The case began in 2018 after North Carolina voters voted to amend the state’s constitution to require voters provide identification. Lawmakers then passed a law requiring voters show either a driver’s license, passport, or other approved local government identifications.
The Supreme Court rules 8-1 that GOP lawmakers in North Carolina can intervene in litigation to defend a state voter-ID law. The NAACP is challenging the law, and the NC attorney general (a Democrat) is defending it. GOP legislators want to intervene anyway. SCOTUS says they can.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 23, 2022
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation despite 55% of the state’s voters approving the measure. The legislature overrode the veto. (RELATED: Supreme Court Delivers Massive Win For Gun Owners)
The state NAACP and local chapters sued in federal court, arguing the law discriminated against black and Latino voters, according to The Associated Press (AP). Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger wanted to intervene in the lawsuit, arguing the state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Stein, wouldn’t defend the law to the extent that they would, according to the AP. A federal judge ruled against the lawmakers. A three-judge federal appeals court panel then ruled in favor of the legislators before the full court reversed the decision, according to the AP.
“Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge. Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it,” the Court ruled.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the sole dissenter, argued the interests of the legislator were being defended.
“States are entitled to structure themselves as they wish and to decide who should represent their interests in federal litigation,” Sotomayor wrote. “State law may not, however, override the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by requiring federal courts to allow intervention by multiple state representatives who all seek to represent the same state interest that an existing state party is already capably defending.”
The law itself is set to have its day in the state’s Supreme Court as well, but the court has yet to set a date for oral arguments, according to the AP. The law was previously blocked by a federal court that ruled the law was discriminatory.