US Supreme Court: NC Republican leaders seek to intervene in case to defend voter ID law

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP.
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 11:34 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Part of an effort by Republican legislators to defend a North Carolina voter ID law is making its way to the nation’s high court.

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. One of the key constitutional questions is related to the ability of state lawmakers to intervene to defend state laws.

Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau spoke with UNC Law Professor Theodore M. Shaw about the details of this case. It was set in motion in 2018 when a North Carolina voter identification law was challenged by the State Conference of the NAACP.

The law has since been struck down by North Carolina state judges who deemed it unconstitutional. The case is expected to head to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

In Washington, the Supreme Court won’t be taking up this exact issue of whether the voter ID law is constitutional. They will consider who has the right to defend the law in court.

When the NAACP filed a lawsuit alleging the voter ID law was unconstitutional, Republican leaders, State Sen. Philip Berger and Rep. Timothy Moore wanted to join the case to defend it. Berger is the president pro tempore of the North Carolina state senate, and Tim Moore is the speaker of the North Carolina state house of representatives.

As Shaw explained, in North Carolina, the Republican Party controls both chambers of the state legislature. However, the Democratic Party holds executive power with Democrat Roy Cooper serving as governor. Attorney General Josh Stein, who is currently tasked with defending laws that are in dispute, is also Democrat.

“[The Republican leaders] didn’t like the idea of leaving the defense of a state statute to the state attorney general when the state attorney general is a Democrat,” said Shaw.

The lawmakers’ requests to intervene were denied several times in the lower federal courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District rejected the case. The judges, whose jurisdiction includes North Carolina, explained the state’s attorney general was already adequately representing the state’s interest. Berger and Moore filed a petition with the U.S Supreme Court and the justices will hear arguments on the case Monday.

“It does open up the answer to that question how do they defend their laws? And more accurately, who defends their laws?” said Shaw.

Oral arguments are set to begin at 10:00 am on Monday.

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