Supreme Court rules GOP lawmakers can defend voter ID law

by Summer Lane

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled Thursday that GOP lawmakers in North Carolina may intervene to protect voter ID laws in court, according to a report from The Hill.

In the decision, which SCOTUSblog reported as an 8-1 ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court.

In the opinion, Gorsuch notes, “Consistent with that directive [of the amended State Constitution], the General Assembly eventually approved Senate Bill 824…under the law’s terms, those seeking to vote must do one of three things: present an acceptable photo ID, or submit a form explaining why they cannot present a photo ID.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday did not necessarily define the validity of the voter ID law itself but instead defined who will be able to defend the law against legal challenges, according to The Hill.

Gorsuch’s opinion states, “No one questions that States possess ‘a legitimate interest in the continued enforce[ment] of [their] own statues…’ No one questions that States may organize themselves in a variety of ways. After all, the separation of governmental powers has long been recognized as vital to the preservation of liberty, and it is through the power to ‘structure…it’s government and the character of those who exercise government authority, [that] a State defines itself as a sovereign.”

According to SCOTUSblog, GOP lawmakers may now intervene in litigation to defend North Carolina’s voter ID law. However, they also reported that the NAACP is challenging the law, “and that the NC attorney general (a democrat) is defending it. GOP legislators want to intervene anyway. SCOTUS says they can.”

 Gorsuch’s opinion concludes:

“Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge. Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it.”

In the 8-1 ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

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