The Supreme Court minutes ago issued an order rejecting an appeal by North Carolina regarding its voter ID law.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to reinstate a 2013 North Carolina law that required voters to show photo identification at the polls.
In a 4-4 split decision, the court said it would not hear a challenge to a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down parts of the law.
Along with new voter identification requirements, the Circuit Court also ruled against a provision in the law that cut the number of early-voting days to 10.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito would have allowed North Carolina to proceed with most of the changes blocked by the 4th Circuit, the Supreme Court said in an order released Wednesday afternoon. Justice Clarence Thomas would have allowed the state to implement all the provisions blocked by the lower court.
The four justices in the court’s liberal wing stood with the 4th Circuit. In the case of a four-four split, the lower court’s ruling is allowed to stand.
The decision — hailed as a win for voting-rights advocates who say the 2013 law disproportionately impacted minority, poor and elderly voters — will allow for 17 days of early voting. Voters will not be required to show identification when they head to the polls.
The 4-4 split shows that the appointment of the next Supreme Court justice will have an enormous impact on voting rights and other critical issues. John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy stood firm in support of voter ID laws, when there was some belief that they might side with the law’s challengers in these particular cases. No such luck.
A significant decision from the Court but assuredly not the final word.