Voters File Brief in Photo ID Case Being Reheard by North Carolina Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, March 3, voters submitted their brief in a previously decided voting case, Holmes v. Moore, that the North Carolina Supreme Court’s new GOP majority agreed to rehear. Last December, the then-Democratic majority of the state Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision to block a 2018 law, Senate Bill 824, that provided a narrow list of qualifying photo IDs acceptable for voting in the state. The North Carolina Supreme Court held that the law violated the state constitution since it was enacted with “impermissible” racially discriminatory intent. Typically, litigation would end here, but after the 2022 midterm elections, the court shifted from a Democratic to a Republican majority. Seeking to capitalize on this, GOP legislators who previously lost the case filed a motion for rehearing on Jan. 20, 2023 in this lawsuit and in Harper v. Hall, a redistricting case.
In an unprecedented move in early February, the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed to rehear both cases. In their opening brief submitted on Feb. 17 in Holmes, the GOP legislators asserted that the court’s December 2022 opinion striking down the state’s restrictive photo ID law was incorrectly decided and “undermined by several flaws.” In the brief, the legislators argued that “[i]n this Court’s prior decision, the majority erred in finding that the trial court fulfilled its obligation to accord the General Assembly a presumption of good faith.” On March 3, the voters who brought the lawsuit filed their response to the GOP legislators and argued that the North Carolina Supreme Court correctly decided the case last year.
In their brief, the voters reiterate that neither “the law nor the facts have changed since this Court issued its opinion affirming the trial court’s judgment on 16 December 2022.” The voters argue that the trial court was correct when it found that North Carolina’s strict photo ID law violated the North Carolina Constitution because it was enacted “at least in part with the intent to discriminate against African American voters,” a finding that was then affirmed by the state Supreme Court. Further, the voters warn the court that overturning its previous decision would “show that the value and durability of the Court’s precedents depends on little more than the composition of its membership, signaling to the citizens of North Carolina that the Court’s rulings will endure only as long as the next election cycle.”
The case will be reheard by the new Republican majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court on March 15.