On Monday, a trial began before the North Carolina Superior Court to determine whether a 2018 law to implement North Carolina's voter ID amendment is constitutional. Emory University professor Carol Anderson was called to testify to the link between the law and racially biased voting restrictions of the past. The only problem? She hadn't read the law being challenged before writing a report about it and didn't even know who sponsored the bill that enacted the law.Read more
Last week, a 4th Circuit panel reversed a District Court decision that struck down North Carolina's voter ID law. The law requires voters to present a valid photo ID to vote in-person or by absentee ballot. As reported by the Washington Post:
The 4th Circuit’s ruling reverses a district court decision that said North Carolina’s 2018 photo ID law would probably have a disproportionate effect on African American voters in the state. The identification requirement had been blocked by federal and state judges, and it did not apply in the November election in which Trump won North Carolina.
North Carolina kicked off the General Election cycle on Friday by sending out mail ballots to the already 634,000 voters and counting who have elected to vote by mail this November. Over the next two months, North Carolinians will again play a pivotal roll in determining who will be President for the next four years.Read more
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and state and local governments take different approaches in responding it, an increasing number of cases have been filed against alleged government overreach. At first they were largely First Amendment cases, as we have previously covered (5/5, 4/22, 4/16, 4/13, 4/9, and 3/27), but now litigation is pending on nearly every government action in response to the pandemic, including challenges to governors' entire executive orders.
Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers' "safer-at-home" order. RNLA member Jake Curtis analyzed the decision, which was made on state separation of powers grounds:Read more
According to Politico, citing a sweeping survey by the Knight Foundation, “voter suppression” is a myth. While Politico does not put it exactly that way, here is a key paragraph that makes that point:
Democratic campaign committees and activist groups have been spending millions of dollars to fight against a range of legal obstacles on voting, believing that making voter registration easier and keeping polls open longer would inspire more Americans to turn out.
But to nonvoters themselves, those issues don’t seem to be at the forefront of their minds . . .
Structural issues such as voter ID laws and difficulty accessing polling places didn’t come up enough to even be marked in the Knight survey results.Read more
Supreme Court Declares Partisan Gerrymandering Cases Nonjusticiable; Issues Confusing Opinion in Census Case
The Supreme Court issued two opinions with direct implications for redistricting this morning, on the last day of the October 2018 Term. In a consolidated opinion for Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the Court held that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts." In Department of Commerce v. New York, the Court remanded the "census" case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its rather confusing opinion that held both that it would be permissible for the the Department of Commerce to ask a question regarding citizenship on the census and that the Department did not provide an accurate reason for the question's inclusion.Read more
Today, the media was buzzing with stories focusing on the President’s power to nominate judges and how that is going to impact the 2020 election. Democrat Presidential candidates have been talking about a wide variety of issues from Citizens United, Roe v. Wade litmus tests for nominees, to strategies aiming to fill the Supreme Court with liberal Justices. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans keep confirming more judges and cementing President Trump’s legacy.Read more
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause, a partisan gerrymandering claim against North Carolina's congressional map, and Lamone v. Benisek, a First Amendment retaliation partisan gerrymandering claim against one Maryland state legislative district. Both cases were before the Court last term and were sent back to the district courts for further proceedings. As in the past, today the justices continued to search for a justiciably manageable standard for considering partisan gerrymandering claims:Read more
On Friday, a North Carolina state court judge struck down North Carolina's voter ID constitutional amendment, which passed in November with over 55% approval by the state's voters. The judge's rationale was particularly strange and troubling:
A North Carolina judge on Friday voided new state mandates requiring photo identification to vote and also limiting income tax rates. He ruled the GOP-controlled legislature lacked authority to put those constitutional amendments on the ballot because lawmakers had been elected from racially-biased districts two years earlier.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins sided with the state NAACP, which had argued that General Assembly was “illegally constituted” because federal judges had declared the district maps used in the 2016 legislative elections illegal racial gerrymanders.Read more
Yesterday was an emotional hearing of the North Carolina election board that generated a fair result, a new election for North Carolina’s ninth Congressional District as a result of ballot harvesting. “Ballot harvesting” is a practice in which paid or organized political operatives collect absentee ballots from voters to whom they have no familial connection and drop them off at a polling place or election office. As happened in North Carolina, critics complain that such actions leave open opportunities for tampering and taking advantage of society’s most vulnerable and those who have no interest in voting.Read more