4th Circuit Appellate Court Grants NC Legislative Motion in Voter ID Case

By Cash Michaels

April 11, 2020 11:49PM
Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels

On March 27th, by a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion by North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore, and NC Senate President pro Tem Phillip Berger to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the NC NAACP and six local NAACP branches against members of the State Board of Elections, alleging that the 2018 voter photo identification law, passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in 2018, was “racially discriminatory in its intent.”

“The order allows the Speaker of the House [Moore] and the Senate Leader [Berger] to intervene in the litigation as defendants,” said atty. Irving Joyner, chair of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee.

“As such, they are able to fully participate in future proceedings along with [state Attorney Josh Stein on behalf of the Legislature. This will probably result in some delays in the proceedings.”

“As it stands now,” Attorney Joyner continued, “…the trial of this matter is on the [Middle] District Court Schedule for January 2021.’

Will the NC NAACP appeal the U.S. Fourth Circuit order? Atty. Joyner says that decision “is on our agenda.”

It was December 31, 2019 when Federal Judge Loretta Biggs informed the NC NAACP that she was granting a preliminary injunction against the 2018 voter ID law passed by the state legislature, thus disallowing it to be used during the March 3rd, 2020 primaries.

A few days later, her order was released, citing “racially discriminatory intent” in the passage of Senate Bill 824. State Attorney General Stein, on behalf of the NC Board of Elections, indicated that he would appeal Judge Biggs’ ruling for trial, but would allow the injunction to stand for the primaries as to not cause confusion with early voting and absentee balloting slated to begin shortly.

But Republican legislative leaders, who were originally not allowed to intervene, or become defendants in the lawsuit, persisted in demanding that they be considered.

They failed to do so before the March 3rd primaries, but now will most likely be included as defendants for the January 2021 federal court. That means, however, that voter ID still will not be allowed for the November 3rd general elections.

Ironically, on March 26th - the day before the Fourth Circuit order came down - the conservative pro voter ID group, the Voter Integrity Project NC, Inc. - filed a “memorandum in support of motion to intervene” in federal court, also seeking to become a defendant to fight against the NC NAACP lawsuit.

No ruling was made on that motion by press time.