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NC Supreme Court Reverses Prior Court on Voter ID, Redistricting and Felon Voting

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Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued three significant opinions in election-related cases, and in doing so, reversed the actions of the previous State Supreme Court on voter ID, redistricting, and the ability of felons to vote in North Carolina.

In Holmes, et al. v Moore, et al., the Court restored North Carolina’s Voter ID law, stating: “The people of North Carolina overwhelmingly support voter identification and other efforts to promote greater integrity and confidence in our elections. Subjective tests and judicial sleight of hand have systematically thwarted the will of the people and the intent of the legislature. But no court exists for the vindication of political interests, and judges exceed constitutional boundaries when they act as a super-legislature. This Court has traditionally stood against the waves of partisan rulings in favor of the fundamental principle of equality under the law. We recommit to that fundamental principle and begin the process of returning the judiciary to its rightful place as ‘the least dangerous’ branch.”

In Harper, et al. v Hall, et al., the Court acknowledged the authority of the General Assembly to draw state legislative and congressional district maps, stating:  “For 200 years our Supreme Court has faithfully sought to implement the intent of the drafters of our state constitution by interpreting that foundational document based on its plain language and the historical context in which each provision arose. Recently, this Court has strayed from this historic method of interpretation to one where the majority of justices insert their own opinions and effectively rewrite the constitution. Today we return to the text of the state constitution, correct our course, and come back to the proper understanding and application of our fundamental constitutional principles. Apportionment is textually committed to the General Assembly, and apportionment legislation is entitled to our long-standing standard of review—a presumption of constitutionality and a required showing that the legislation is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no judicially manageable standard by which to adjudicate partisan gerrymandering claims. Courts are not intended to meddle in policy matters. In its decision today, the Court returns to its tradition of honoring the constitutional roles assigned to each branch.”

In Community Success Initiative, et al. v Moore, et al., the Court rejected a previous ruling that made it easier for felons to vote in North Carolina, stating: “Plaintiffs failed to prove the unconstitutionality of section 13-1 [the challenged state statute that sets out the criteria that felons must satisfy to be eligible to vote] beyond a reasonable doubt. The General Assembly did not engage in racial discrimination or otherwise violate the North Carolina Constitution by requiring individuals with felony convictions to complete their sentences—including probation, parole, or post-release supervision—before they regain the right to vote. We therefore reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiffs and remand this case to the trial court for dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice.”


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