Supreme Court Allows GOP Legal Defense of North Carolina’s Embattled Voter ID Law
Supreme Court Allows GOP Legal Defense of North Carolina’s Embattled Voter ID Law

By Matthew Vadum

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on June 23 that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature must be allowed to step in to advocate for a heavily litigated voter ID law in court because Josh Stein, the state’s Democratic attorney general, allegedly isn’t doing enough to defend the statute.

Republican lawmakers have long complained that Stein’s advocacy has been half-hearted and has focused on technical issues instead of countering the oft-repeated left-wing claim that voter ID laws are racially discriminatory. Republicans generally favor strengthening election integrity measures, such as requiring photo identification by voters. Democrats generally oppose photo IDs, saying that the requirement is burdensome and disenfranchises voters.

In 2018, North Carolina voters approved by 55.5 to 44.5 percent a state constitutional amendment requiring voters to present photo ID and directing the North Carolina General Assembly to develop legislation to enforce this requirement. The legislature soon approved Senate Bill 824, which Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed. The legislature overrode his veto.

Lower federal courts sided with Stein.

On June 7, 2021, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected the request from the legislature to take over the defense of the law from Stein. In dissent, Judge Harvie Wilkinson, a Reagan appointee, suggested that Stein may have a conflict of interest.

“When a challenge is brought to an unpopular or controversial state law, an attorney general’s defense of the law may be less than wholehearted,” Wilkinson wrote. “If the plaintiffs in the case are politically influential, the temptation to pull punches becomes even stronger. It casts no aspersions on anyone to note the obvious: North Carolina’s voter photo ID law is a very controversial statute.”

Separately, a divided state court in North Carolina struck down the law on Sept. 17, 2021, finding in Holmes v. Moore that it “was motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.”

The case at hand is Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, court file 21-248, an appeal from a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The lead petitioner Phil Berger, a Republican, is president pro tempore of the North Carolina Senate. Tim Moore, also a Republican and Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, is also a petitioner. The lead respondent, the NAACP, is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The case has drawn comparisons to Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, in which the Supreme Court ruled—also by 8-1—on March 3 that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, should be allowed to defend a state law restricting abortion after the state’s Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, refused to do so. The Epoch Times reported on the ruling at the time.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the court’s opinion (pdf) in the North Carolina case, which was joined by five conservative justices and two liberal justices. The sole dissenter was liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“[T]he merits of that dispute are not before us, only an antecedent question of civil procedure: Are two leaders of North Carolina’s state legislature entitled to participate in the case under the terms of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2)?”

“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. 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.”

North Carolina has selected multiple officials to defend its interests in some cases, authorizing its attorney general, who is elected independently by state voters, to represent individual official defendants in federal litigation, Gorsuch wrote. At the same time, its General Assembly has also empowered the leaders of its two legislative chambers to participate in litigation on the state’s behalf under certain circumstances and with counsel of their own choosing, he added.

Because “the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend duly enacted state statutes against constitutional challenge,” the state’s “legislative leaders are entitled to intervene in this litigation,” Gorsuch wrote, reversing the judgment of the 4th Circuit.

In her dissenting opinion, Sotomayor noted that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure a federal court is not authorized to grant a motion if an existing party to the case is adequately representing the movant’s interests.

Stein is “already ably” representing the state’s interests, she wrote.

Affiliate News Feeds

  • Reuters
  • Washington Examiner
  • The Federalist
  • The Epoch Times
  • The Guardian
  • The Gateway Pundit
  • Judicial Watch

By Marina Zhang Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that vaccinated and boosted people made up most of the COVID-19 deaths in August. Of the… [...]

By Petr Svab Officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security frequently met with major social media companies ahead of the 2020 election and pointed out users and… [...]

By Jack Phillips The campaign of Arizona Republican candidate Kari Lake responded to a district court imposing a fine on her lawyers after filing an election-related lawsuit earlier this year.… [...]

Union workers are lashing out at both political parties and President Joe Biden for the rail legislation signed to prevent a strike, calling the provisions a "slap in the face"… [...]

A former professor at the University of California San Diego said she gave all of her students "A" grades and no homework in a recently unearthed video. [...]

A key Senate vote over whether to provide paid sick leave for rail workers is highlighting a divide within the GOP, a party that has increasingly tried to position itself… [...]

Usually when a person defrauds investors of millions of dollars and launders the funds to personal pet projects, he goes to jail. (See: Bernie Madoff.) But in FTX founder Sam… [...]

Insider documents released on Friday confirm Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s legitimate reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop mere weeks before the 2020 presidential election was a political… [...]

It would be easy to laugh in the faces of the ADL people but it's not a joke. Putting out these junk studies has real consequences. [...]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said the European Union must act to address “distortions” created by the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)—part of Biden’s  “Made… [...]

Seniors have been severely affected by inflation. Most had to cut back on spending and many needed to take “drastic” measures, such as skipping meals, according to a recent survey.… [...]

SIMI VALLEY, Calif.—The United States is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st… [...]

Initiative is part of measures agreed between London’s mayor Sadiq Khan and the police force Police officers in schools are to be monitored to see if they are disproportionately targeting… [...]

Exclusive: economic inactivity due to sickness at highest level since records began, with north, Wales and Northern Ireland disproportionately affectedPeople in the UK are getting “sicker and poorer”, with a… [...]

From first to last, the drum beats were relentless from the small section of Senegal supporters. They pounded in the temples of everybody present, creating an oppressive backdrop to this… [...]

Hillsborough, North Carolina – An elderly Home Depot worker died from his injuries a couple months after he was violently shoved to the ground by a thief. Gary Rasor, 83,… [...]

Twitter continues to censor tweets by Kari Lake and other Trump-Endorsed candidates in Arizona for exposing Katie Hobbs and corruption in Arizona’s elections and the courts. The Gateway Pundit reported… [...]

Joe and Dr. Jill hosted a White House reception ahead of the Kennedy Center Honors show in the East Room. Jill Biden wore another ghastly dress Sunday evening at a… [...]

Secret Service Repeatedly Changes Its Story on Hunter Biden Gun Records What is the Secret Service Hiding about Biden Raid on Trump’s Home? Judicial Watch Sues to Find Out! Judicial… [...]

From Fox News: The Secret Service will not say why they changed their position regarding a government watchdog’s records request into Hunter Biden’s gun investigation records. Government watchdog Judicial Watch… [...]

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the United States Secret Service has repeatedly changed its position about whether it is in possession of records related to the investigation… [...]

USNN2020

USNN World News (USNN) USNN World News Corporation is a media company consisting of a series of sites specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information, local,...