The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday March 26th

N.C. Supreme Court makes two voting rights decisions before majority flips

The Supreme Court of North Carolina, located in Raleigh, is pictured on Aug. 26, 2022.
Buy Photos The Supreme Court of North Carolina, located in Raleigh, is pictured on Aug. 26, 2022.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina's Republican lawmakers acted unconstitutionally in two voting rights cases involving voter ID and gerrymandering. 

The rulings found that the GOP lawmakers reduced the impact of Democratic voters by passing a voter ID law that intentionally discriminated against Black voters and redrawing the state's congressional districts to increase the odds of a Republican majority in the N.C. General Assembly.

Both decisions were 4-3, along party lines, with the court's Democratic majority triumphing.

In the gerrymandering case, which was appealed in February and went back to the N.C. Supreme Court, the court ruled that the state Senate map is still unconstitutional and must be redrawn. However, it ruled that the map for the N.C. House of Representatives can still be used.

"If our state is to realize its foundational ideals of equality and popular sovereignty, it must first 'ensure that the channeling of "political power" from the people to their representatives in government through elections, the central democratic process envisioned by our constitutional system, is done on equal terms,'" Justice Robin Hudson wrote in the opinion.

In the other big case decided on Friday, the court struck down Republican state legislators' attempt to pass a voter ID election rule, citing racial discrimination.

In the decision, Justice Anita Earls wrote that "even though the General Assembly had reason to know that African-American voters would be disproportionately affected by S.B. 824, it still chose to pass a law that required the specific IDs African-American voters disproportionately lack."

These rulings came just before the court will switch to a 5-2 Republican majority in January.

Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), the speaker of the N.C. House, criticized the state Supreme Court for what he called "judicial activism" in a statement on Friday.

“The lame duck Supreme Court of North Carolina has issued yet another opinion that defies the will of the majority of North Carolinians who voted for the implementation of a photo ID requirement," he said in a statement.

@emmymrtin | @ethanehorton1

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