US Supreme Court to consider whether North Carolina Republicans may intervene in voter ID case
© WikiMedia (MarkBuckawicki)
US Supreme Court to consider whether North Carolina Republicans may intervene in voter ID case

The US Supreme Court granted certiorari Wednesday to consider whether North Carolina Republican legislators can intervene in a case to defend the state’s voter ID law.

Philip Berger, a state senator from North Carolina, along with a group of fellow Republican state legislators, petitioned the Supreme Court to consider whether they may intervene in, or join as a party, a case where the North Carolina State Conference for the NAACP (NC NAACP) sued the state over a controversial voter ID law. The law, Senate Bill 827, requires all North Carolina voters to provide identification before voting.

In its original suit, the NC NAACP argued that the new voter ID requirement discriminated against Black and Latinx voters. According to the NC NAACP, after it filed suit, North Carolina President Pro Tempore Philip Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore moved to intervene in the case. After a US District Judge in the Middle District of North Carolina denied the Republicans’ motion, they once again moved to intervene. Their motion for intervention was denied a second time.

The legislators then appealed their issue to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. At first, a divided panel reversed the district court’s decision to prevent the Republican lawmakers from joining in the case. However, following a rehearing, the full court affirmed the district court’s decision by a 9-6 vote. The court there concluded that the North Carolina Attorney General was “already representing the state’s interest,” and there was no need for the lawmakers to “also [] speak for the State.”

In the lawmakers’ brief to the Supreme Court, they argue that the circuit courts are split over “whether a state-designated agent must overcome a presumption of adequate representation when seeking to intervene alongside another state official.” They suggest that requiring state officials who want to intervene in cases like this one need not overcome a presumption of adequate representation by other state officials because to say so would be inconsistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Supreme Court precedent and “proper respect for State’s sovereign authority.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear the case during its 2021-2022 term.