U.S. Supreme Court rejects bid to
reinstate North Carolina voting limits
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[September 01, 2016]
By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme
Court on Wednesday rejected a bid by North Carolina to reinstate for
November’s elections several voting restrictions, including a
requirement that people show identification at the polls.
The eight-justice court, divided in most part 4-4, rejected a request
made by Republican Governor Pat McCrory after an appeals court ruled
last month that the 2013 law discriminates against minority voters. Five
votes are needed for an emergency request to be granted.
"We’re thrilled. Elections in North Carolina this fall are going to be
conducted under a fair and nondiscriminatory election law scheme," said
Allison Riggs, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice,
one of the civil rights groups that challenged the law.
The U.S. Justice Department, which has also been involved in fighting
the law, did not immediately comment on the decision.
McCrory said in a statement that the state "has been denied basic voting
rights already granted to more than 30 other states to protect the
integrity of one person, one vote through a common-sense voter ID law."
The brief order noted that three of the court's conservatives, including
Chief Justice John Roberts, would have allowed the voter identification
provision and limits on early voting to be in effect for the election.
Justice Clarence Thomas agreed on that point, but was the only justice
to say he would have also allowed a requirement blocking
pre-registration of 16-year-olds to stay in place.
McCrory’s lawyers said the status quo should be maintained so close to
the election, citing court precedent in their favor.
The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on
July 29 that the law intentionally discriminated against minority
voters. The same court refused to put its decision on hold for the Nov.
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Governor of North Carolina Pat McCrory introduces candidate for U.S.
Senate Thom Tillis (R-NC) at a campaign stop in Raleigh, North
Carolina October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Keane
Critics say such laws, passed in Republican-governed states, make
voting harder for minorities such as African-Americans and
Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats. Backers say the laws are
necessary to prevent voter fraud.
The court is currently short one justice following the death of
conservative Antonin Scalia in February, which likely deprived the
conservative justices of the fifth vote they needed to grant the
The high court could yet be asked to weigh in on other voting
restrictions ahead of the election, with several cases pending in
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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