They may never admit it, but the civil rights industry is tired of spending millions of dollars only to lose most voter ID fights in court. Instead of declaring defeat, the strategy has shifted to changing the rules of engagement, and trying to transform the Voting Rights Act into something it isn’t. The Supreme Court can now stop this transformation of the Voting Rights Act into a partisan political weapon, if it accepts an appeal from North Carolina. The civil rights industry, which includes swarms of career employees in the Justice Department, has been losing voter ID fights for the better part of a decade. They have been foiled by laws which take into account that some voters may not be ID-ready, but provisions are made to service them, like in South Carolina. Judges have also noted where states extended timelines for enforcement so citizens can prepare for the change. Most important, courts have acknowledged that such laws do not target minorities and are equally applied to all. It certainly does not hurt that federal judges are aware that polling shows how voter ID is more popular among poorer minorities than wealthy liberal whites.
Because voter ID is overwhelmingly popular, and because courts have largely supported it, they are trying to change what the Voting Rights Act means. They are trying to transform the law away from a protecting against real world disenfranchisement, to a statistical game that aims to protect Democratic political power. If an election theoretically has a disparate impact on Democrats, then the Voting Rights Act is violated.
They can press this ugly transformation of America’s most important civil rights law because they have spent 30 years stoking the flames of racial polarization and trying to make “black” synonymous with “Democrat.”
Unlike most voter ID litigation, North Carolina has followed a strange path. Normally, trial courts make detailed factual findings that appeals courts cannot disturb, much less replace. The district court was appreciative of the North Carolina’s safety net for those without ID to still have access to a regular ballot. It was not lost on the court that the timeline for implementation was measured in years — not weeks. Given all of this, the district court predictably gave North Carolina’s voter ID package a clean bill of health. South Carolina had a nearly identical law approved by another federal court sitting in Washington D.C. using even more exacting review standards.