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Duke prof: Voting law challenges face tough fight

Posted August 14, 2013

— Opponents of North Carolina's new elections law may face an uphill battle in court. 

That's the word from Duke University professor Guy Charles, who heads the Duke Law Center on Law, Race and Politics. He spoke with WRAL News Wednesday about the lawsuits filed this week by the ACLU and the NAACP.  

Both suits allege that state lawmakers passed the sweeping changes to the state's elections laws in full knowledge that the bill would disproportionately affect minority voters. They're asking the federal courts to find that that constitutes intentional discrimination. 

Such a finding would trigger Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, reinstating a federal pre-clearance requirement for North Carolina for any voting law changes in the near future.

Charles interview Duke prof discusses suits over NC elections law

"Section 3 is a pretty high hurdle," Charles said. "It's not just that you have to prove intentional discrimination, which is high enough, but you might also have to prove that this is a repeated pattern by the state, such that you can't trust them to pass voting laws without discriminating on the basis of race.

"This is not going to be an easy process, but it is one option that's available," Charles said.

He was also skeptical about the chances that a judge would agree to block the law from taking effect, as both lawsuits request.  

Charles says judges, aware of the time-sensitivity of elections, generally prefer to either expedite elections-law cases or delay the effect of any rulings until the following election cycle. 

"If the judge is fairly sure that the plaintiffs have a fairly strong case, you'll see an injunction," he said. "If the issues are fairly contentious and depend upon the development of facts, where a broader record needs to be developed, then I don't think you're going to see an injunction.

"I think that will depend upon allowing the lawsuit to play out. That way, the court can see exactly what the facts are before making a determination."

11 Comments

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  • outdoorafrobeky Aug 16, 3:07 p.m.

    Article 1, Sec. 10. Free elections - All elections shall be free.

    If I now have to purchase a state ID in order to vote, elections are no longer free. If I have to pay to aquire other documents necessary to purchase a state ID, elections are not free either. FREE means no cost!

  • lem07 Aug 16, 1:50 p.m.

    So no one read Article VI of the NC Constitution here? You can read my posts, so I know you can read. Tell me where in the Article it states once you are validly registered to vote you have to have further proof or you cannot vote?

  • Pirate01 Aug 16, 11:49 a.m.

    The law applies equally to everyone in the state. It is laws that are commonplace in the country (33 states) and has been proven Constitutional by the US Supreme Court.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 16, 11:39 a.m.

    "So let's get this LAW in front of the NC Supreme Court and get it ruled "unconstitutional.""

    It is not unconstitutional, so all that is happening is taxpayer money will be wasted because of some misguided racists like Barber.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 16, 11:38 a.m.

    "Arguably the GA can restrict the form of ID for registering but not restrict validly registered voters at the poll."

    They are not restricting validly registered voters at the poll. Now unfortunately we already have a lot of registered people that should not be allowed to vote, but unless everyone is made to re-register and prove eligibility to vote, that can not be fixed.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 16, 11:35 a.m.

    "Both suits allege that state lawmakers passed the sweeping changes to the state's elections laws in full knowledge that the bill would disproportionately affect minority voters. They're asking the federal courts to find that that constitutes intentional discrimination. "

    So they fill their lawsuit with a pack of lies. The law applies TO all of us. I did not see anything in the law that stipulates a unique set of requirements for one group of people over another. This is just the same old tired race-baiting that comes from Democrats.

  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 16, 11:28 a.m.

    So let's get this LAW in front of the NC Supreme Court and get it ruled "unconstitutional."

    What is "unconstitutional" about it?

  • lem07 Aug 16, 9:08 a.m.

    So let's get this LAW in front of the NC Supreme Court and get it ruled "unconstitutional."

  • RadioDJ Aug 16, 8:58 a.m.

    What needs to be restricted are these right wing goobers access to the legislative building. There has been nothing logical about anything they've done thus far.

  • Spock Aug 15, 3:43 p.m.

    lem07, this LAW can only be declared "unconstitutional" by the North Carolina Supreme Court. Therefore, your speculation may not have any logical value.

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