North Carolina officials asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to keep a voter identification requirement and 10 days of early voting for the November election, even after a lower appeals court ruled these changes illegally restricted voting by blacks.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said his lawyers and those for other officials, including some hired by GOP legislative leaders who championed the 2013 law, asked the court to delay enforcement of last month's ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The delay would occur while attorneys draft an appeal for the justices to consider the inherent issues in the case more deeply.
The ruling struck down the photo ID mandate and returned early voting to 17 days.
The attorneys wrote that altering the voter laws would create voter confusion weeks before the election inNorth Carolina, a presidential battleground state with races for governor and U.S. Senate also on the ballot. The voter ID requirement already was used in this year's primary elections.
"North Carolina should not be forced to scramble mere months before the general election to rejigger settled election plans at the 4th Circuit's command," the state's attorneys wrote to Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts receives such appeals for North Carolina matters.
A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit already refused to delay their July 29 ruling, which found the Republican-led General Assembly enacted the law with intentional discrimination in mind. The court ruled the changes targeted black voters more likely to support Democrats.
McCrory has said the ruling is factually wrong and maligned the state, adding that requiring photo ID makes common sense and protects the integrity of elections at a time when people must show IDs all the time.
"The 4th Circuit's ruling is just plain wrong and we cannot allow it to stand," McCrory said in a release.
So we'll see what the Supreme Court does. Given the 4th Circuit's pretty substantial findings, especially given that the state's Republican party went out of their way to target black NC voters in particular with practices that would specifically limit their ability to vote, I can't see the Supreme Court saying "Hey, yeah, we need to keep those practices going until we can decide this."
Then again, all Chief Justice Roberts would need to do is say "It's too close to the election in order to make any changes" and punt, which is why McCrory waited several weeks in order to petition the court for an injunction.
How the court will proceed, I don't know. We'll find out soon, I suspect.