The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on Thursday ruled 8-1 that Republican lawmakers can intervene in a court battle to defend North Carolina’s voter ID laws against Democrat officials.
In 2018, Republicans in North Carolina’s state legislature overrode a veto by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper that amended the state’s constitution to declare that “voters offering to vote in person shall present photographic identification.”
In response, the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued the governor and the state board of elections. In court, the board of elections was defended by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, who previously voted against voter ID laws while in the state Senate.
Republicans in the state legislature sought to intervene in the case, arguing that the state’s interests were not being properly represented, as the governor and attorney general have both opposed voter ID laws.
In an 8-1 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, SCOTUS held that “North Carolina’s legislative leaders are entitled to intervene in this litigation.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the case.
The legislative leaders seek to give voice to a different perspective. Their “primary objective” is not clarifying which law applies. They are not burdened by misgivings about the law’s wisdom. If allowed to intervene, the legislative leaders say, they will focus on defending the law vigorously on the merits without an eye to crosscutting administrative concerns. And, they add, the differences between their interest and the Board’s in this case demonstrate why state law empowers them to participate in litigation over the validity of state legislation — alive as it is to the possibility that different branches of government may seek to vindicate different and valuable state interests. Perhaps recognizing all this, the Fourth Circuit itself allowed the legislative leaders to intervene in the appeal from the District Court’s preliminary injunction ruling. The same result should follow here. [Emphasis added]
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. 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. [Emphasis added]
“Today is a big win for democratic accountability in the rule of law,” Ambassador Ken Blackwell, chairman of the Center for Election Integrity at the America First Policy Institute, exclusively told Breitbart News.
“Voter ID laws are overwhelmingly popular, including among black and Hispanic voters that the left false claims are discriminated against by these laws,” Blackwell said. “Today’s decision allows the people’s elected lawmakers to defend this popular law they passed when Democrats in North Carolina’s executive branch fail to vigorously do so.”
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who filed an amicus brief in the case, praised the decision by SCOTUS as “a huge win for voter ID” laws:
Today’s ruling is a huge win for voter ID and the right of state legislatures to intervene and defend their laws when a rogue attorney general fails to do their job and goes against the will of the people because of politics. In fact, implementing commonsense safeguards, like voter ID, to ensure safe and secure elections should never be political.
The case is Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, No. 21–248 in the Supreme Court of the United States.