The Supreme Court of the United States handed North Carolina Republicans a big win on Thursday.
The case was Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP.
In an 8-1 decision, the court found that Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have a right to “intervene in litigation to defend a state voter-ID law,” as reported by SCOTUSblog.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenting justice.
Here's the opinion from Neil Gorsuch in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP: https://t.co/3KvasUOpDV. Sonia Sotomayor dissents.
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 23, 2022
“The NAACP is challenging the law, and the NC attorney general (a Democrat) is defending it. GOP legislators want to intervene anyway. SCOTUS says they can,” SCOTUSblog said in a tweet.
Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court, which was released early Thursday morning.
“Within wide constitutional bounds, States are free to structure themselves as they wish. Often, they choose to conduct their affairs through a variety of branches, agencies and elected and appointed officials,” Gorsuch wrote.
“These constituent pieces sometimes work together to achieve shared goals; other times they reach very different judgments about important policy questions and act accordingly. This diffusion of governmental powers within and across institutions may be an everyday feature of American life. But it can also pose its difficulties when a State’s laws or policies are challenged in federal court.”
According to an analysis of the case from Cornell Law School, in 2018, North Carolina passed a bill requiring voters to “present one of ten forms of authorized photographic identification” if they wish to vote.
Democrats have long made the argument that voter ID laws such as this are racist practices designed to keep minorities from voting.
So, shortly following the passing of the bill — Senate Bill 824 — the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP filed a motion against the act, arguing that “the Bill discriminated against and disenfranchised a significant portion of African American and Latino voters.”
Then, in 2019, Philip E. Berger — the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempe — and Speaker of the House Timothy K. Moore “sought to intervene.”
That decision has now been affirmed by the nation’s highest court.
According to Gorsuch, the GOP lawmakers were doing exactly what they were elected to do.
“Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge,” Gorsuch wrote.
“Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it.”
“Having satisfied the terms of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2), North Carolina’s legislative leaders are entitled to intervene in this litigation. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is Reversed.”
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