N.C. A. Philip Randolph Institute v. N.C. State Board of Elections

Voting Rights
Logo in Voting Rights Purple

Case Summary

Filed 06/15/2023
Updated 04/23/2024

Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged North Carolina's Jim Crow-era strict liability felony voting law in 2020 on behalf of the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, with assistance from co-counsel from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. The challenged law made it a felony for any North Carolinian to vote while on parole, probation, or post-release supervision for a felony conviction, even if they mistakenly believed or were told in error by election workers or their parole officers that they were eligible to vote. In their complaint, plaintiffs alleged this law violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment.

In response to the litigation, the legislature amended the law in 2023 to require intent to vote fraudulently going forward, but still allowing for convictions under the former strict liability standard for prior elections. In April 2024, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs granted summary judgment for plaintiffs, ruling the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment and ordered it may not be enforced, even retroactively.

Why it's Important

The law represents the last relics of Jim Crow measures meant to disenfranchise Black people and impede their efforts to help North Carolinians access the ballot. For more than 145 years, the voices of North Carolinians with felony convictions, many Black North Carolinians, were chilled by the selective and arbitrary enforcement of the law.

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