Parties in the three federal lawsuits challenging voting law changes signed into law here in August will appear before U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder on December 12 to map out a schedule for proceedings moving forward. And while they’ve reached agreement on some preliminary litigation matters, the parties are not budging on one critical date: when the case should be tried. Those challenging the voting changes, including the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, say in papers filed with the court yesterday that all preliminary proceedings can be completed in time for a trial in the summer of 2014. That timing would ensure that changes set to take effect in January are reviewed by the court before the 2014 midterm elections. But the state defendants claim that such a schedule is unrealistic and are asking for a trial in the summer of 2015.
“These measures need to be reviewed before they go into effect for their legality and their constitutionality,” said Chris Brook of the American Civil Liberties Union North Carolina Legal Foundation, one of the attorneys representing the league. “No one’s right to vote in North Carolina should be unduly burdened without that judicial review.”
Shortly after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 589 into law in August, the NAACP filed suit in federal court in Greensboro, contending that the voter ID and other provisions of the new law violate the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
The League of Women Voters also filed suit the same day in Greensboro, challenging many of the same changes in voting laws, except for the voter ID provisions, which the group challenged instead in a suit filed in state court in Orange County.