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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case on NC's Racist Voter ID Law

20 May 2017

In a blistering decision last July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the state legislature explicitly set out to discover the kind of accommodations that minority voters use most often and then to roll back or eliminate them, targeting African Americans "with nearly surgical precision".

"It is unconscionable that Roy Cooper and Josh Stein - who ignored state law and flouted their conflicts of interest to kill voter ID in North Carolina - have now caused the vast majority of voters who support voter ID to be denied their day in court", the statement said.

"Today's announcement is good news for North Carolina voters", Cooper said in a statement.

Even after the 4 Circuit Court struck down the law, the GOP in North Carolina took measures to keep African-Americans away from the polls. "I will continue to work to protect the right of every legal, registered North Carolinian to participate in our democratic process".

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. The justices declined to review that decision, though Chief Justice John Roberts noted in a statement that not all of them agreed with the lower court's ruling.

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The decision also represents a success for voter rights advocates concerned about the fallout from a 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down a key enforcement provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. North Carolina's law was one of a number of similar statutes passed by Republican-controlled states.

Roberts, however, also stressed that the justices weren't deciding that the lower court was right to strike down the North Carolina requirements. "Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans".

The appeal was originally filed by Governor Pat McCrory while he was still in office. Proponents of voter-restriction laws have long argued they are meant to stop voter fraud and other abuses. Nine primarily Southern states - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia- and dozens of counties in other states, were previously included in the list of regions required to seek approval from the federal government in order to alter their voting laws.

Republicans have said laws like the one in North Carolina are needed to prevent voter fraud.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) took to Twitter to call it "a huge victory against sham voter ID laws written to suppress the vote".

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Last summer, before the election, the justices signaled they were closely divided when they split 4-4 on a request to allow the provision of the law to go into effect for the election.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to not hear a defence of the law.

"This is a huge victory for voters and a massive blow to Republicans trying to restrict access to the ballot, especially in communities of color", said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

But the conservative Heritage Foundation said it was "disappointing that the Supreme Court did not accept for review an obviously wrong decision by a 4th Circuit panel that doesn't follow the court's own precedent and other decisions on voter ID by other federal courts".

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