Over the last decade, Republican legislators across the country have focused on two tools to remain in poer as the country's demographics have changed: (i) shockingly gerrymandered districts, and (ii) voter ID laws to disenfranchise as many minority voters as possible. The voter ID law effort, of course, was hidden behind the smoke screen of protecting against "voter fraud" - fraud that has been documented to not exist. Among the more egregious voter ID laws was the one enacted in North Carolina after the GOP take over of the state legislature. Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit saw the reality of the North Carolina GOP's agenda and struck down the heinous statute. Talking Points Memo looks at the 4th Circuit's ruling (the full ruling can be found here). Here are are highlights:
A three-judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has found North Carolina's controversial GOP-backed voting restrictions were intended to discriminate against African American voters.
The Friday ruling is a huge win for voting rights activists in a closely watched case in a potential 2016 swing state. The appeals court reversed the ruling of a district court siding with the state.
"In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with
discriminatory intent, the [district] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees," the opinion said. It permanently blocked provisions in a 2013 North Carolina law that required certain photo IDs to vote, limited early voting, eliminated same day registration, ended out-of-precinct voting and prohibited pre-registration of young voters.
In the opinion, the panel of judges said that the law restricted voting in ways that "disproportionately affected African Americans" and that its provisions targeted "African Americans with almost surgical precision." It said the state's defense of the law was "meager."
"Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the state’s true motivation," the opinion said.
It noted that the legislation was passed as African American voter turnout had expanded to almost the rates of whites, and that the legislature enacted the legislation after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, which had required North Carolina to seek federal approval for changes to its voting policies. . . . .
The appeals court -- citing a lower court's findings -- pointed out that state lawmakers sought data breaking down voting practices by race. The judges said that the law's provisions singled out the practices disproportionately popular among African Americans, such as preregisteration and provisional voting
[T]he appeals court opinion said. "We recognize that elections have consequences, but winning an election does not empower anyone in any party to engage in purposeful racial discrimination."
The case was a consolidation of a number of lawsuits challenging the legislation, brought by various civil rights organizations and voter advocacy groups, on behalf of voters. The Department of Justice also participated in the litigation, siding with the challengers.
Sadly, today's GOP's main motivations are racism, religious extremism and misogyny.