The U.S. Supreme Court shut the door Monday on North Carolina Republicans’ effort to revive a state law that mandated voter identification and scaled back early voting, provisions that a lower court said improperly targeted minority voters. The justices left in place last summer’s ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the law’s photo ID requirement to vote in person, which the court said targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.” The measure, approved in 2013 by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature in 2013, also reduced the number of early-voting days and prohibited same-day registration during the early voting period. Supporters said the measure was necessary to crack down on voter fraud, but opponents said the changes discourage voting by black and Hispanic residents, who use early voting or same-day registration more than white voters and are more likely to lack photo ID.
Two trials on legal challenges to the state law were held in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem in July 2015 and January 2016. U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder upheld the state law in a ruling in April 2016. That decision was appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The North Carolina dispute is similar to a court fight over Texas’ voter ID law, which was also struck down as racially discriminatory. The Texas case is making its way through the lower courts and could be the high court’s next opportunity to weigh in.