Last month, a federal judge found that a voter ID law in Texas, similar to the one in North Carolina, was enacted with the goal to discriminate against blacks and Hispanics in the state.
The law was previously disparaged by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals as allegedly targeting black voters in the state "with nearly surgical precision".
The appeals court found that the law's provisions "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision" and "impose cures for problems that did not exist", concluding that the Republican-led legislature enacted it "with discriminatory intent".
The Republican-controlled legislature passed the changes in 2013 and former Gov. But the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last July the state provided no evidence of the kind of in-person voter fraud the ID mandate would address. Nine primarily Southern states - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia- and dozens of counties in other states, were previously included in the list of regions required to seek approval from the federal government in order to alter their voting laws.
"An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing", Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.
"In light of Chief Justice Roberts' statement that the ruling was not based on the merits of voter ID, all North Carolinians can rest assured that Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the commonsense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote", North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger and House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore, Republicans who backed the law, said in a joint statement.
Democrat Josh Stein spoke outside the state crime lab on Meadowview Road this afternoon, just hours after the Supreme Court declined to reinstate the controversial voter identification law. A ruling last summer by a three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law ahead of the November 2016 general election. "But there's no higher court than the Supreme Court, this effectively ends Supreme Court case 16-833".More news: National Hockey League playoffs 2017: James Neal's goal gives Predators OT win over Ducks
North Carolina's voter identification law is officially dead.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who many believed would be sympathetic to the state, issued a statement regarding the court's denial to rehear the case.
Critics said the commission would justify voter suppression efforts, while state election officials are anxious it could "divert attention from other serious concerns, such as aging equipment and the threat of hacking", she wrote.
The court also found that the early voting restrictions had a much larger effect on black voters, who "disproportionately used the first seven days of early voting". "That charge is incredible on its face given the pains the legislature took to ensure that no one's right to vote would be abridged". A trial judge rejected arguments that the law violated the Constitution and what remained of the Voting Rights Act.
"Now is the time for North Carolina lawmakers to restore access to democracy for its citizens", Clarke added.
The dispute is similar to the court fight over Texas' voter ID law, also struck down as racially discriminatory.