The Supreme Court Just Blocked North Carolina’s Sweeping Voting Restrictions

A lower court found the law targeted black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

Andrew Krech/News & Record via AP

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The Supreme Court turned down North Carolina’s request on Wednesday to implement a restrictive voting law that a lower federal court blocked last month. The law would have imposed strict ID requirements, shortened early voting periods, and eliminated same-day voter registration, among other barriers to voting. Critics had said the 2013 law was racially discriminatory, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals last month agreed, observing that the state Legislature had targeted voting restrictions at African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”

The state waited 17 days after that decision to file an “emergency” request with the Supreme Court for a stay of the ruling, which would have allowed the state to proceed with the November election under the restrictive rules. The eight-member court deadlocked 4-4 on Wednesday on whether to grant that request, falling short of the majority required for a stay of the lower court’s ruling. The February death of Justice Antonin Scalia once again affected the outcome of a highly politicized case, as his vote with the court’s four-member conservative bloc would have allowed North Carolina to proceed with its law.

The North Carolina law was one of the most dramatic and restrictive voting measures enacted in any state since the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited discrimination against minorities in voting. The Supreme Court itself paved the way for its passage in 2013 with its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the section of the Voting Rights Act that required preclearance by the Department of Justice to enact changes affecting minority voting rights in areas with a long history of discrimination. North Carolina was one of those areas, and it initiated its voting law the day after the Shelby County decision came down.

Allison Riggs, a senior attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice who helped argue the case before the appeals court, issued the following statement after the decision:

The Supreme Court acted in the best interest of North Carolina voters, allowing elections this fall to proceed absent the cloud and concern of racially discriminatory voting laws. This decision opens the door for fair and full access to the democratic process for all voters. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians will now be able to vote without barriers. The voting booth is the one place where everyone is equal and where we all have the same say.

Read the decision here:

US Supreme Court

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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