RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will no longer defend the state’s voter ID law, now that a federal appeals court has ruled it was passed with “discriminatory intent.”
A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel blocked its enforcement last Friday, ruling that the Republican-led General Assembly made changes that targeted black voters more likely to support Democrats.
“Attorneys with our office put forward their best arguments but the court found that the law was intentional discrimination and we will not appeal,” Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley said in an email.
Barring some new court intervention, the appellate ruling means the law’s restrictions will not be in place for this year’s presidential election. The ID mandate is now gone and early voting restored to 17 days, up from 10. Same-day registration during early voting and the partial counting of out-of-precinct ballots resume permanently.
The decision by the office of the Democratic challenger to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory doesn’t end the case, however. The governor and GOP legislative leaders are planning appeals using taxpayer funds to pay their own lawyers, some of them in private practice. McCrory said their next appeal could be to the full 4th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
McCrory said Cooper should stop taking his state salary if he won’t defend state agencies. The governor and legislative leaders reject arguments that the law was meant to discriminate, saying voter ID is supported by most voters, who want to protect the integrity of the election process.
“We think it is the proper law and it’s amazing that the attorney general will not fulfill the responsibility of his oath of office to defend our laws of North Carolina,” McCrory told reporters.
Speaking earlier Tuesday, Cooper noted that the court found that McCrory and Republican leaders passed a law to prevent certain people from registering and voting. “The governor is wasting taxpayer money in trying to defend the indefensible,” his campaign spokesman Ford Porter added in a statement.