By Hunter Hines
Richmond, Va. – Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s Voter ID law. The new law passed in 2013 required that voters in the Tar Heel state provide valid identification before casting their vote. Its intent was to protect the integrity of the state’s elections.
Although the law ensured that any citizen of the state wanting an opportunity to vote could do so, although it provided a list of valid government-issued photo IDs voters could present at the polls, although it allowed any person without a photo ID to secure one without charge at the Department of Motor Vehicles, although it still allowed anyone who had difficulty getting an ID to fill out a reasonable impediment affidavit and have their vote counted, the ruling by the 3 judge panel said the N.C. General Assembly enacted the law “with racially discriminatory intent” and passed it to entrench Republican power in the state.
The U.S. Department of Justice, the North Carolina NAACP, named voters, and four churches brought the suit against the law. They argued that it was unconstitutional and a violation of the Voters Rights Act. They contended it was a revival of Jim Crow laws by a Republican dominated legislature and meant to curtail the vote of the poor and black minorities that typically vote for Democrats.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, appointed by George W. Bush, upheld the law back in April, ruling it was constitutional. He said plaintiffs had “failed to show that such disparities will have materially adverse effects on the ability of minority voters to cast a ballot and effectively exercise the electoral franchise.”
Parties in the suit then appealed to the 4th Circuit.
Rev. William Barber, head of the NAACP and Moral Monday organizer was an ardent opponent of the Voter ID requirement and had said that opposition to it was “our Selma.”
According to ABC 11 Eyewitness News, Barber said that today’s decision was “as you might imagine” had made him and others named in the suit “beyond happy.” He said “the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision exposed for the world to see under the light of our constitution the racist intent of extremist elements in North Carolina.”
The New York Times reports that U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, praised the decision at a press conference claiming the law had contradicted some of the nation’s most basic principles of democracy.
She added, “The ability of Americans, the ability of all of us to have a voice in the direction of their country, to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation, is fundamental to who we are, to who we aspire to be as citizens and as Americans. And going forward, the Department of Justice will continue our work to protect this sacred right.”
But Governor Pat McCrory and the leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly took umbrage with such assertions.
“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal courtroom. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state,” McCrory said in a released statement.
House Speaker Tim Moore and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Sen. Phil Berger, released a stinging joint statement condemning what they termed a partisan ruling by the court with a possible nefarious motive.
“Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election.”
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, wrote in defense of the controversial Voter ID law in 2014. Then Dr. Creech wrote, “Voter fraud is real and always plausible.”
He cited the voter fraud that occurred when Lyndon Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948 and his election was proven to be rigged in 1977, four years after Johnson’s death. He also cited Pasquotank County’s successful removal of more than 60 voters from their rolls after the 2012 election, when it became abundantly clear they didn’t live at the addresses on their voter registration.
Read Dr. Creech’s 2014 op-ed: In Defense of North Carolina’s Voter ID Law.
“Such examples provide the impetus for states to vigilantly revise, reform, and upgrade their election laws wherever necessary to protect the vote, which is exactly what North Carolina’s current leadership did,” said Dr. Creech in his op-ed.
Dr. Creech stated today that he thought the ruling was a travesty for our state and the integrity of elections. He said the law did not discriminate against minorities and that a similar statute had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.
“These three justices appointed by Obama and Bill Clinton are shining examples of the judicial activism we can expect if Hillary Clinton is elected President,” said Dr. Creech.
He concluded, “Such justices impose their opinions upon the law rather than interpreting it according to the framers original intent in the Constitution. Polls have shown North Carolinians overwhelmingly approve of the Voter ID law and their representatives in the North Carolina House and Senate passed it. But never mind, federal judges know better than North Carolinians. We’ve become a nation of the courts, by the courts, and for the courts. We should all pray earnestly that God would deliver us from this tyranny.”
Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly leadership promised to appeal the decision.