The Supreme Court Will Hear Case About Voter ID Law in North Carolina

Bryan Dijkhuizen

Several Republican legislators in North Carolina have petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case, which they believe is unfairly represented by the state's Democratic attorney general.

The legislators seek to defend the state's strict voter identification law, which they believe is being unfairly represented by the Democratic state attorney general.

The issue raises the question of who has the right to act as a state agent to preserve the law in the middle of a split government.

Senate Bill 824 in North Carolina mandates that voters provide a picture identification card.

The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP promptly filed a lawsuit against the bill, claiming it unfairly affects African American and Latino voters.

The state Senate's president pro tempore, Philip Berger, and the state House of Representatives speaker, Timothy Moore, hope to get the authority to intervene to defend the law in the case.

In the lengthy history of voting rights litigation in North Carolina, the state has been a hotbed of controversy.

Nonetheless, according to Rick Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, in this newest case, the Supreme Court is unlikely to weigh in on the ballot access issues raised by the broader challenge.

In these judicial battles between state legislatures and executive branches headed by different political parties, voting rights are a significant source of contention. Still, it is not the only policy topic over which these differences emerge.

Hasen believes that the way the Supreme Court handles the North Carolina case will significantly impact how similar conflicts are resolved in the future.

It was brought up in the case against a 2013 North Carolina omnibus voter restriction act, which contained a provision requiring voters to show identification identical to the statute being challenged presently.

"This case is really about who gets to defend the law," Hasen said. "This is a fairly common pattern of disputes that we're seeing now in states where Democrats and Republicans control the executive branch control the legislative branch. And so you have a Democratic attorney general, a Democratic governor who wants to take one position on the state's voter ID law and a state legislature that wants to take another, and the question is really: who gets to defend the law?"

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Voter IDPoliticsLawSupreme CourtNorth Carolina

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