Supreme Court to decide if Republican legislators can defend North Carolina voter ID law
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Part of an effort by Republican legislators to defend a North Carolina voter ID law made its way to the nation’s high court, Monday.
The United States Supreme Court heard arguments in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP.
This case was not about voting rights or ballot access. One of the key constitutional questions is related to the ability of state lawmakers to intervene to defend state laws.
The North Carolina republican controlled legislature passed the voter-ID law in 2018, which required voters to present a photo ID at the polls.
The state chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit claiming the law intentionally discriminated against Black and Latino voters. As Attorney General, Josh Stein is tasked with defending the law in court, but he’s a democrat. State Republican leaders want to intervene, fearing Stein isn’t fighting hard enough to defend the Republican-backed law.
Republican leaders, State Sen. Philip Berger and Rep. Timothy Moore, wanted to join the case to defend the voter ID law. Berger is the president pro tempore of the North Carolina state senate, and Tim Moore is the speaker of the North Carolina state house of representatives.
During Monday’s proceedings, David Thompson, who represents Berger and Moore, argued his clients are entitled to a seat at the table.
“We want to have someone who’s a true champion of voter ID, who believes that voters should show an ID to vote, to be in the case, to defend the case,” said Thompson.
On the other side, lawyers for the NAACP and the North Carolina DOJ stated they believe the state should speak with a singular voice; the attorney generals’. If the lawmakers were to be involved, they said, it would violate the separation of powers.
Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau spoke with UNC Law Professor Theodore M. Shaw about the details of this case.
Shaw said that this is a “partisan battle between the state Attorney General’s office and the state legislators.”
Shaw said the court’s decisions will set a precedent for other states with a divided government and it could help determine the fate of the North Carolina voter I.D law.
“It does open up the answer to that question how do they defend their laws? And more accurately, who defends their laws?” said Shaw.
An opinion from the high court is expected to come back within a few months.
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