McCrory to appeal voter ID ruling after Cooper demurs

Posted August 2, 2016

— Gov. Pat McCrory suggested Attorney General Roy Cooper should decline his salary after the state's top lawyer refused to further defend North Carolina's voter ID law on appeal.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law last week, saying the requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls and other changes to state election laws discriminate against black voters. Cooper said Tuesday morning that he believes the election should go forward without the ID requirement. McCrory, a Republican, vowed to appeal and criticized Cooper, a Democrat, for not doing his job.

"We think it is the proper law, and it's amazing that the attorney general will not fulfill his oath of office to defend our laws of North Carolina," McCrory said. "In fact, I question whether he should even accept a paycheck from the State of North Carolina anymore because he continues to not do his job."

McCrory and Cooper are running against one another in this year's gubernatorial election, and this is just their latest clash over the handling of legal issues for the state.

Cooper said later Tuesday that not every case needs to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he's defended many state laws over the years, including the voter ID law in both state and federal courts.

"Our attorneys have been working hard to defend many laws that have overreached. This is just another example of a law that's unconstitutional and that's overreaching," he said. "I told the legislature it was a bad idea. I told the governor that he should veto it. We defended it for three years anyway but have gotten to the point now, with this unanimous 4th Circuit opinion, that it's time to stop."

Last week's ruling found that North Carolina lawmakers had unconstitutionally targeted black voters with new voting restrictions such as voter ID, shortening the early in-person voting period and eliminating same-day registration. While the motivation may have been to win elections, the court ruled, the impact was to discriminate.

"A state legislature acting on such a motivation engages in intentional racial discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act," the court wrote.

North Carolina isn't alone. Over the past two weeks, federal judges in Texas, Wisconsin and North Dakota have thrown out part or all of those states' voting laws. In each case, the judges ruled that efforts to reduce Democratic turnout targeted minority voters.

McCrory dismissed that notion when asked if he was, in fact, planning to defend a discriminatory law.

"It was obviously a very political opinion," he said, pointing out the three judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents. "We ought to allow this to be heard by other courts. The attorney general, by the way, had no problem participating in the appeal when a judge ruled in favor of photo ID. It's only when they rule against photo ID that the attorney general decides not to participate and do his job. So, he's obviously letting his political opinion impact his job as attorney general."

The governor also blamed Cooper for having publicly disagreed with the law.

"His ability to do his job while running for governor is a terrible conflict of interest, based on not just this case but several other cases, because he's out raising money on issues he's supposed to be defending," he said.

The McCrory campaign also used the ruling to raise money – sending a solicitation email out on Friday before the Governor's Office even issued an official response to the ruling.

McCrory and other Republicans have argued that voter ID is needed to ward off voter fraud and have implied that striking down the law will favor Democratic candidates. Cooper said there was "no evidence" of voter ID warding off fraud.

"The court was pretty clear in its ruling – its unanimous ruling – that there was no evidence of fraud and this was discriminatory intent to try to prevent certain people from registering and voting," Cooper said.

McCrory and state Republican leaders have called on Cooper to resign in the past, but Cooper again says he intends to keep doing his job.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Alex Wilson Aug 8, 2016
    user avatar

    Of course he is all for spending money that's not his own.

  • Aiden Audric Aug 4, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The issue is that Republicans looked at how minorities/democrats vote, and ways to impede them.
    Their research pointed to minorities and the elderly not having specific types of ID. So, suddenly only those IDs are required to vote.

    It's not that IDs are a bad idea. It's that they were used to suppress votes while being touted as a fix to a problem who's existence is more than questionable. Absentee ballots, used by more Republicans, weren't addressed, for example, but are a leading source of voter fraud.

    Don't get bamboozled by the gift wrapping on the dog stool. Still stinks on the inside.

    I support voter ID. But not in the form our "representatives" implemented it.

  • Aiden Audric Aug 4, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    So, time off of work, transportation costs... those are all covered by the state, too?

  • Edward Anderson Aug 3, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The state does not provide funds for getting a certified copy of a birth certificate (which is required to get this "free" ID) nor does it provide funds or transportation or daycare for individuals to go to the DMV to get their "free" ID, but most egregiously, it does not provide a means to "prove" birth for people who were born in a time/place where birth certificates were never generated or if the "county courthouse burned down". It may not happen very often this century, but there are still plenty of people who were born in the last century who care about the American political system, but would have been disenfranchised under this law.

  • Jim Frei Aug 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Pat - you lost. Quit wasting my money on your lost causes. I cannot wait until November to vote for esteemed (and intelligent) Roy Cooper.

  • Joseph Shepard Aug 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Other than his desire to be elected Governor, I cannot see how Cooper justifies his refusal to do his job. He cannot pick and choose which laws to support and which ones to not. And I seem to recall during the debate over whether county magistrates/clerks could refuse to marry same sex couples, he (Cooper) allowed as how they did not have the latitude to ignore the duties of their offices and refuse to perform those duties. Yet here he is doing the same exact thing he stated they could not do. Just a whiff of Democratic hypocrisy here???

  • Mike Voiland Aug 2, 2016
    user avatar

    And McCrory and Berger and Moore should stop tapping our tax dollars to pay for their ideologically bent crusades. The legal costs for all of their court cases now exceeds $8M, and that's even before the HB2 and gerrymandering law cases are fully heard and ruled on. The NCGOP-led NCGA passed a provision in our new state budget to allow using the state's reserve fund--its rainy day/emergency money--to cover court costs. Absolutely irresponsible malfeasance!

  • Sam Nada Aug 2, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Well, first of all it Cooper. Secondly, he took this oath of office:

    "I, ___________, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God."

    So, he's actually duty bound by oath to not defend laws that violate the US Constitution, and is in fact doing his job by refusing to defend the voter ID law, as well as HB2.

    Lastly, I presume you think the clerks who wouldn't issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriage should have been fired, as well as the pharmacists who won't sell contraceptives.

  • Chris Newman Aug 2, 2016
    user avatar

    Yeah so the Federal Courts ruled the ID law unconstitutional. Cooper's oath of office reads in part "I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State,
    not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States" If the Voter ID law has been ruled unconstitutional then there's nothing to defend. Sorry Pat... the end of the road is quickly approaching.

  • Demute Sainte Aug 2, 2016
    user avatar

    Copper should be fired!
    Thats what happens to just about anyone that refuses to perform their job... even when they dont like it.