U.S. Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it will hear an important case regarding North Carolina’s voter identification laws.
North Carolina’s voter identification case, Philip E. Berger et al. v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP et al., would not be decided by the Supreme Court, rather the court will only determine whether Republican lawmakers can be involved in the ongoing legal process in the lower courts.
If the Supreme Court rules that Republican lawmakers can be involved in the legal process, the decision regarding whether North Carolina’s voter identification law is constitutional or unconstitutional will be determined in the lower courts.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear this case after North Carolina lawmakers, including Senate President Pro Tempore Philip Berger, attempted to intervene in a challenge to the voter identification law. An appeals court prevented the lawmakers from joining the case, arguing that the defendant in the case, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, could not be replaced in the case. Republican lawmakers issued their request to the Supreme Court arguing that there was not adequate representation in the case, due to the executive branch of North Carolina being controlled by a Democrat governor with a bias against voter identification.
In their petition to the nation’s highest court, Republicans stated, “When considering the delicate question of the constitutionality of a state law, they similarly should be sensitive to even an appearance that an existing party’s defense of the law will be inadequate—particularly when state law designates another agent essential to defending the State’s interest.”
North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers are moving to ensure that the law is not unjustly tainted by the personal bias of Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C., and his administration.
In 2013, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed a law requiring voter identification in order to provide a safeguard against election fraud. The law states:
“Every qualified voter voting in person in accordance with this Article, G.S. 163‑227.2, or G.S. 163‑182.1A shall present photo identification bearing any reasonable resemblance to that voter to a local election official at the voting place before voting.”SESSION LAW 2013-381 HOUSE BILL 589
Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill, supporting the safety and security of North Carolina’s elections. However, Democrat lawmakers immediately claimed the law was unconstitutional and discriminatory. According to the Epoch Times, a court in North Carolina overturned multiple provisions of the law on the basis of “racially discriminatory intent.” The state began an attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court, however, when Roy Cooper was elected governor in 2017, he dismissed the state’s appeal.
In response, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 824, which allowed for a variety of opt-outs and exceptions to the state’s voter identification laws. The law was vetoed by Gov. Cooper, but his veto was overridden by the Republican legislature. After the legislature passed Bill 824, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a challenge against the law, claiming that it was racially discriminatory.
In the years following this case, Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina have attempted to intervene on both sides of the voter identification law. Republicans lawmakers were prevented from being involved in the case on the basis that the attorney general was already involved. This has resulted in Republicans petitioning the Supreme Court in an effort to have fair representation in court.
North Carolina judges struck down the voter identification law in September, once again claiming the law was discriminatory against minorities. This ruling captured the media’s attention, putting voter identification requirements in the spotlight as Americans continue to be divided on this issue. President Trump and Republican lawmakers have pushed for voter identification as a safeguard in American elections, however Democrats continue to push back against the idea of safer elections, leading many to question their motives.