Supreme Court allows North Carolina Republican leaders to legally defend voter ID law

The decision focused on the government's defense of the law, rather than the law itself

Updated: June 23, 2022 - 6:58pm

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The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on Thursday that North Carolina Republican lawmakers may legally defend a state law requiring voter identification. 

The decision did not rule directly on the ID requirement, which was a 2018 amendment to the state's Constitution that Democrats Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein opposed. The Supreme Court instead focused on which government entities are able to defend the law in court.

"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," Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court's majority.

"Ordinarily, a federal court must respect that kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it," he said, reversing the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision. 

As the lone dissenter, Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized the majority's decision. 

"In short, the Court’s conclusion that state respondents inadequately represented petitioners’ interests is a fiction that the record does not support. In addition, the Court’s armchair hypothesizing improperly displaces the District Court’s firsthand experience in managing this litigation," she wrote.