Opponents of North Carolina’s photo voter identification law urge the N.C. Supreme Court to consider their lawsuit as early as September. They filed a motion Monday for an expedited hearing.
“Timely resolution of this matter is necessary to allow the State and its voters to prepare for future elections without the risk of voter confusion and disenfranchisement,” according to the motion from attorney Jeffrey Loperfido of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. The coalition represents plaintiffs challenging the state’s 2018 voter ID law. The case is called Holmes v. Moore.
“It has now been more than three years since S.B. 824 [the voter ID law] was enacted,” the motion added. “And the legislature’s inability thus far to craft a voter ID law that does not intentionally discriminate against African American voters has resulted in nearly 10 years of confusing, on-again-off-again messaging to voters and election officials alike. … North Carolina’s voters and election officials deserve the certainty that only this Court’s review can provide.”
“[I]n light of the recent release of the Supreme Court’s Calendar of Arguments for August, Plaintiffs-Appellees request that the Court schedule this matter for oral argument at the earliest possible date, either in a special session scheduled for September or, in the alternative, as part of the October oral argument calendar,” Loperfido wrote.
The motion acknowledges that legislative leaders oppose an expedited review. State government lawyers representing the N.C. State Board of Elections “take no position” on the motion, according to Loperfido.
With a 2-1 vote, a trial court panel threw out North Carolina’s voter ID law in September 2021. Unless that ruling is overturned, North Carolina cannot move forward with a photo ID requirement.
Voter ID defenders appealed the trial court’s ruling to the N.C. Court of Appeals, but ID critics then asked the state Supreme Court to intervene.
Legislative leaders accused ID opponents of “forum shopping” based on the contrasting partisan compositions of the two appellate courts. Republicans outnumber Democrats, 10-5, on the Appeals Court. Democrats outnumber Republicans, 4-3, on the state Supreme Court. Two Supreme Court seats now held by Democrats are up for grabs in the November election.
The state’s highest court agreed on March 2 to take the voter ID case. No date has been announced for oral arguments.
Holmes v. Moore represents one of three active legal challenges involving voter ID. The state Supreme Court already has heard oral arguments in N.C. NAACP v. Berger. That case challenges a voter-approved amendment enshrining photo ID into the N.C. Constitution. Opponents argue that an illegally gerrymandered General Assembly had no authority to place the ID amendment on the ballot. That case provided the content for season one of the “Extreme Injustice” podcast, available at ExtremeInjustice.com.
North Carolinians approved voter ID with 55% of the ballots cast in a statewide November 2018 constitutional referendum. The General Assembly approved its law implementing the voter ID amendment the following month.
North Carolina’s voter ID law also faces a challenge in federal court. In an 8-1 ruling issued in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state legislative leaders had the right to intervene in the federal case to defend voter ID. Originally scheduled for trial in January, that federal case has not yet been rescheduled.