The Corner

Holder Loses in the Carolinas—Again

Attorney General Eric Holder suffered a huge loss on Friday in his war on election integrity. A federal judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s omnibus election reform law that includes voter ID, as well as measures such as the elimination of same-day registration.

In three cases filed by the Justice Department, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and a host of other liberal advocacy organizations that had been combined into one case, federal district court Judge Thomas Schroeder ruled that the “plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits.”

DOJ and its political allies claimed that the state’s 2013 law violates the 14th, 15th, and 26th Amendments, as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it is supposedly racially discriminatory. DOJ also asked for federal observers to be assigned to future elections in North Carolina.

The North Carolina law implemented a voter-ID requirement; reduced early voting from 17 to ten days; eliminated same-day registration; does not allow the counting of provisional ballots cast outside a voter’s regular precinct; banned the preregistration of 16- and 17-year olds; and expanded poll observers and the ability to challenge ineligible voters.

Judge Schroeder wrote a very long, 125-page opinion that quite simply shreds the arguments made by DOJ and the other plaintiffs. They made the same mistake in this case that they made in the Shelby County decision (decided last year by the U.S. Supreme Court) when they unsuccessfully cited old cases in arguing that the North Carolina legislature was acting with the intent to discriminate when it passed the election law.

As Judge Schroeder pointed out, the plaintiffs’ “historical evidence in these cases focuses largely on racial discrimination that occurred between a quarter of a century to over a century ago. However, as the Supreme Court recently stated, ‘history did not end in 1965’” when the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Significantly, Judge Schroeder cited the testimony of DOJ’s own experts against it. This included one expert who admitted that black turnout in North Carolina is on par with that of whites, and another DOJ expert who acknowledged that the black registration rate is higher than that of whites. That makes it a bit difficult to argue that state officials have been discriminating against minority voters.

In fact, Judicial Watch filed an expert report in the case through an amicus brief that showed that in the May 2014 primary election, black turnout was up an astounding 29.5 percent compared with the last midterm primary election in May 2010. White turnout was up only 13.7 percent. As Judicial Watch said, these results were “devastating to the plaintiffs’ cases because they contradict all of their experts’ basis for asserting harm.”

Most important, Judge Schroeder found that the data in fact showed that “black voters will not have unequal access to the polls” due to the new provisions of the election law being challenged. And the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that this law was “implemented with the intent to deny or abridge the right to vote of African-American North Carolinians or otherwise violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution.”

Although the voter-ID requirement is not effective until 2016, the plaintiffs challenged the “soft rollout” requirement of the law. This mandates that election officials notify voters in elections held in 2014 and 2015 that they will need a photo ID in 2016. But the judge refused to issue an injunction against the “soft rollout,” too.

Trial in this case is scheduled for July 2015, so the litigation is not over. But this is a significant blow to DOJ and other opponents of commonsense election reforms.

That is particularly true when one remembers that this is DOJ’s second big loss in the Carolinas. South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson beat DOJ in 2012 when a federal court threw out a claim that South Carolina’s voter-ID law was discriminatory. That law is in place today — and there is a high probability that North Carolina’s voter-ID requirement will also be in place in 2016 for the next presidential election.

Most Popular


What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More