Skip to content
Home » MASSIVE WIN: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of North Carolina Requiring Photo ID to Participate in Future Elections

MASSIVE WIN: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of North Carolina Requiring Photo ID to Participate in Future Elections

In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina legislative leaders have the ability to intervene and protect their new constitutional amendment requiring photo identification for voters.

The voter ID law itself has been disputed for years but the amendment is currently being questioned as it is not in effect and has been challenged in state and federal courts.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone opposition to the ruling.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “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. Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it.”

The SCOTUS Blog described the ruling and what the origins of the argument were, they also provided Sotomayor’s counter argument.

The law at the center of the case requires voters to provide photo identification to cast a ballot and directs county election boards to provide ID cards at no cost to voters. The state’s legislature passed the law in 2018, and it went into effect over a veto by the state’s governor, Democrat Roy Cooper. The North Carolina NAACP then went to federal court, where it argued that the law violates both federal voting rights laws and the Constitution. When Philip Berger, the leader of the North Carolina Senate, and Timothy Moore, the leader of the state’s House of Representatives, asked to intervene in the lawsuit, the district court rebuffed their request, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld that decision.

In an 18-page opinion, Gorsuch explained that the first issue before the court was whether the Republican legislators had an interest in the outcome of the dispute that would be “practically impaired or impeded without their participation.” As a general rule, Gorsuch posited, barring a state’s authorized representatives from intervening in a federal lawsuit challenging a state law will have such an effect on a state’s interests. And in this case, Gorsuch continued, other provisions of North Carolina law had specifically given its legislative leaders the power to defend the state’s interests in cases like this one.

This poll gives you free access to our premium politics newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.

What’s more, Gorsuch added, the 4th Circuit was wrong to presume that the state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Stein, had adequately represented the state’s interests. That inquiry, Gorsuch wrote, is backward, because the Supreme Court’s cases have made clear that would-be intervenors generally have to meet only a relatively low bar. But such a presumption, Gorsuch continued, “is inappropriate when a duly authorized state agent seeks to intervene to defend a state law.” “Normally,” Gorsuch said, “a State’s chosen representatives should be greeted in federal court with respect, not adverse presumptions.”

Gorsuch acknowledged the NAACP’s concern that allowing legislative leaders to intervene to defend state laws could in some cases make litigation more complicated and potentially unwieldy. “But that case is not this case,” Gorsuch stressed. The legislative leaders “bring a distinct state interest” to the case – and indeed, “federal courts routinely handle cases involving multiple officials sometimes represented by different attorneys taking different positions.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone dissenter. She described Thursday’s ruling as “wrong for two reasons.” First, she explained, the majority should not have presumed that “a State is inadequately represented in federal court unless whomever state law designates as a State’s representative is allowed to intervene.” Such a presumption, she reasoned, “improperly permits state law, as opposed to federal law, to determine whether an existing party adequately represents a particular interest.” And second, she continued, the majority was wrong to imply that Stein’s “defense of the constitutionality of the voting law at issue here fell below a minimal standard of adequacy.”

Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on America? Click Here

Follow Raging Americans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.