In a decision that has many at a loss, today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that North Carolina election integrity laws were enacted with a racially discriminatory intent. The Public Interest Legal Foundation released a statement with regard to the decision.
“The trial court conducted the trial, heard the evidence, and ruled that the law was valid. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals behaved like a trial court and decided that the law had a discriminatory intent,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “Normally, appeals courts remand to trial courts to review the evidence with the guidance of the appeals court. The Fourth Circuit undertook the job of a trial court and the integrity of the upcoming election is worse off because of it.”
Among the unusual rulings was the court holding that Section 5 objection letters by the Obama Justice Department about other election procedures constituted relevant evidence of racially discriminatory intent in the voter ID law. Objections are based on a failure to affirmatively disprove discriminatory intent, not because discriminatory intent is found.
“This case was brought to extract partisan advantage using the Voting Rights Act and sadly the plaintiffs were successful in turning that important civil rights law into a political weapon,” said Adams.
The concerns raised by the decision are numerous, as the Fourth Circuit acted like a trial court determining evidence and found that the voter ID law and other important election integrity reforms were not enacted for a legitimate purpose.
The three judges assigned to the case — all Democratic appointees — were unanimous that the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act three years ago by enacting the measure requiring voters to show certain types of photo ID at the polls.