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Advocates Celebrate ‘Major Victory’ After Federal Judge Blocks North Carolina’s Voter ID Law


A North Carolina federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s voter ID law, which would have implemented a photo identification requirement for all voters beginning in 2020.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs issued the brief written notice Thursday evening, explaining that the announcement was specifically timed to prevent a statewide mailer from being sent out in the next few days, according to local media outlet WRAL. The would-be mailer is aimed at educating voters about the new ID laws. Biggs’s full decision is scheduled to be released next week.

The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP, said that the law was essentially a carbon-copy of a 2013 which a federal court struck down after finding that the requirements were designed to intentionally discriminate against the state’s black population, saying the law “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Attorneys for the NAACP argued in court documents that the new law was a “barely disguised duplicate” and was grounded in the “same discriminatory intent as its predecessor,” noting that the law still prohibited voters from using government IDs issued to recipients of public assistance programs, which would disproportionately affect African Americans, according to the Associated Press.

The latest photo ID mandate, which had been pushed by the state’s Republican lawmakers, would have permitted several forms of identification; allowed those without one to obtain an ID card free of charge; or otherwise provide an explanation as to why they were unable to obtain a compliant card.

President of the N.C. NAACP Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, said the announcement was a “major victory” against “voter suppression using voter identification to deter minority voting,” according to the News & Observer. The N.C. NAACP sued and sought the injunction.

“We will continue to ensure that communities of color have a full opportunity to elect representatives who will protect their interests in the state legislature,” Spearman said in a press release.

The state’s GOP lawmakers vowed to fight the ruling. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) called the decision an act of judicial activism and promised it would be appealed.

“This last-minute attempt by an activist federal judge to overturn the will of North Carolina voters must be immediately appealed by the Governor’s Board of Elections,” Moore said in a statement Friday. “To issue an injunction against one of the nation’s most lenient voter ID laws – which 34 states already have – without providing an opinion is an outrageous affront to due process, the rights of North Carolina voters, and the rule of law.”

[image via Joe Raedle_Getty-Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.