(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s Supreme Court issued three opinions on Friday, including one which voters approved in the 2018 midterms.
The law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls was approved 5-2. In separate decisions, the court also ruled 5-2 to end consideration of partisan gerrymandering claims and to end felon voting.
On each, Chief Justice Paul Newby and associate justices Phil Berger Jr., Tamara Barringer, Richard Dietz and Trey Allen voted in the affirmative. Associate justices Michael Morgan and Anita Earls dissented.
The rulings are along party lines, with the majority Republican.
North Carolina voters approved voter identification at the polls in 2018 through a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. In those midterms, 55.49% of nearly 3.7 million votes were in favor.
The state Senate, majority Republican, followed through in December with legislation that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper subsequently vetoed. Federal and state lawsuits followed.
The voters’ 2018 choice was finally struck down four years later by the state Supreme Court on Dec. 16 – the court lame duck in status, with a majority of Democrats and about to be changed to the GOP majority that ruled Friday.
Photo identification is required in more than half of the United States. Virginia, which requires identification but not photo ID, is the only border state that does not require photo ID. It is required throughout the Southeast, and much of the Rust Belt and Midwest.
The 26 other states to require photo ID are Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Non-photo ID is required in Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Alaska.
Redistricting maps, drawn, redrawn, and litigated numerous times, have been tied up in the courts ever since the 2010 midterms when Republicans gained majorities in the General Assembly for the first time in 140 years. It was not immediately clear if maps recently drawn would be in place or new ones will be filed for the 2024 presidential cycle.
Felons out of prison but still serving probation, parole or paying fines have long been prevented from voting until those portions of a sentence were satisfied. Friday’s ruling reinstates that provision.
In a statement representing North Carolina Democrats, Party Chairwoman Anderson Clayton said, “This is a trio of tragic rulings for voters across our state brought to us by the radical Republican majority in control of our courts that are specifically designed to silence voters, especially Black and brown voters. We should be making it easier to vote – not harder. Today, the Republican majority court pushed their own partisan goals instead of defending our democracy and the freedom of North Carolinians to choose their elected leaders – a shameful and un-American power grab that will harm North Carolinians.”
The state’s Republican Party also opined on the decisions, saying in its statement a “strong majority of North Carolina voters voted to replace those judicial activists last fall, just like they voted to adopt Voter ID requirements.”
Chairman Michael Whatley said, “Today is a great day for North Carolina and the Rule of Law. The people of North Carolina rejected the blatant activism of the progressive judges by electing a strong majority of conservative Justices. These rulings are a big step toward restoring respect for the Constitution and taking politics out of the courtroom.”