I just wanted to use a Steely Dan song title for once. You should go and research how that band got its name.
The news that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Voter ID law was an enormous victory here in North Carolina. As Rob Schofield highlighted in his posting on NC Policy Watch’s “The Progressive Pulse” blog, there are two paragraphs that really stand out in the 80+ page opinion paper (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/07/29/breaking-fourth-circuit-court-of-appeals-strikes-down-ncs-monster-voting-law/#comments ).
“It is beyond dispute that “voting is of the most fundamental significance under our constitutional structure.” Ill. State Bd. of Elections v. Socialist Workers Party, 440 U.S. 173, 184 (1979). For “[n]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964). We thus take seriously, as the Constitution demands, any infringement on this right. We cannot ignore the record evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.
We therefore reverse the judgment of the district court. We remand the case for entry of an order enjoining the implementation of SL 2013-381’s photo ID requirement and changes to early voting, same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration.”
The phrases “beyond dispute”, “infringement of rights”, and “largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history” are strong uses of diction. Emphatic actually.
And there is more in the report that offers an even stronger repudiation of the Voter ID law.
Page 11 of the report (found here – http://electionlawblog.org/wp-content/uploads/nc-4th.pdf ) states,
“In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist. Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation. “In essence,” as in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (LULAC), 548 U.S. 399, 440 (2006), “the State took away [minority voters’] opportunity because [they] were about to exercise it.” As in LULAC, “[t]his bears the mark of intentional discrimination.” Id.
“Surgical precision?” Wow! “Intentional discrimination?” Double Wow!
What makes this decision even more historical is that it happens in time for the November elections. An appeal process would almost be impossible to be galvanized before Election Day. So now NC will have to reinstitute full early voting, same day registration, and ability to vote in a different precinct.
Furthermore, it highlights why North Carolina is such a huge state in this presidential election.
Whether some would like to admit it or not, NC is a purple state. It went for Obama in 2008, and barely went for Romney in 2012. In 2012 Romney won the state by less than 100,000 voters. In 2008, Obama won NC by less than 17,000 votes.
A Reuter’s study estimated that around 29,000 voters would have been compromised by the current version of NC’s Voter ID law. Most all of them would have been poor minorities.
If one looks at the demographics of those who are supporting the Trump campaign as opposed to the Clinton campaign, it is not hard to see that Clinton is the clear beneficiary of the Voter ID law being struck down by the court system. And since NC is considered a vital swing state with FL, PA, and OH, this decision looms LARGE!
And we already knew that NC was big, right? Look at it closely.
- Clinton was in Charlotte the night the DNC started to convene.
- Trump was in Winston-Salem the night the DNC came to order.
- Two of the speakers Thursday at the DNC were North Carolinians, most notably Dr. Rev. William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP who has spear-headed the legal challenge to the Voter ID law.
- North Carolina is a huge military state.
- NC has been in the national spotlight already with HB2.
So, take that Ohio, Birthplace of Flight! Just kidding.
What I am more interested in is the response that will come from the governor’s office, particularly his spokesperson, Ricky Diaz.
This will weigh heavily on McCrory. Not only will thousands of more people vote for president, they will also vote for the next governor. McCrory has championed this bill for voter suppression and it has been declared unlawful. Polls were showing he and Cooper close, but now 29,000 new voters are in the mix. I don’t think that bodes too well for McCrory.
And it might be worth noting that this may have an effect on whether or not a special session convenes for the NC General Assembly to get HB3 on the ballot. That’s the TABOR Bill – you can read about that here – (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/24/tabor-a-tourniquet-around-the-bloodlines-of-our-republic/ ).
Oh, and when HB2 gets challenged, guess who might make the ultimate decision –
Yep. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.