More progress in NC voting rights case
Late in the afternoon on May 15, 2014 U.S. District Court Judge Schroeder upheld a magistrate’s ruling ordering North Carolina state lawmakers to release some e-mails and other documents related to the passage of the state’s sweeping voter suppression law. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice had filed a motion to compel the release of that information after lawmakers refused to do so by claiming “legislative immunity.”
“This ruling means lawmakers will no longer be allowed to hide behind a veil of secrecy,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “If politicians are going to tamper with people’s fundamental right to vote, we deserve to know why.”
Immediately after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the voter suppression bill into law last August, the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed their legal challenge. The suit targets provisions that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit “out-of-precinct” voting. The groups charge that enacting these provisions would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“This ruling is terrific news for every North Carolinian who values integrity and transparency in our elections,” said Chris Brook, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.
The case, League of Women Voters of North Carolina et al. v. North Carolina, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. It was brought on behalf of several North Carolinians who will face substantial hardship under the law, and on behalf of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, and Unifour Onestop Collaborative, whose efforts to promote voter participation in future elections will be severely hampered.
“This decision will help the court get a fuller picture of why the voting changes at stake are so detrimental to North Carolina voters,” said Southern Coalition for Social Justice staff attorney Allison Riggs.