North Carolina legislators upset with efforts by the governor and state attorney general to stop the U.S. Supreme Court from reviewing the state’s voter ID law have lodged their protest with the country’s high court.
In a court document filed Monday, legislative leaders sought to be added to a case that could determine whether North Carolina voters have to show one of six forms of identification to cast a ballot.
At issue in the latest legal struggle between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republicans at the helm of the General Assembly is who speaks for the state — the governor or state legislature.
The lawmakers’ filing comes nearly a week after Cooper and Stein took a step to end a review of a lower court ruling. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory had requested the Supreme Court’s review in the waning days of his administration.
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Cooper’s chief counsel and Stein sent a letter on Tuesday dismissing private attorneys who had been representing the state in an appeal of the ruling last year by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found key provisions of a 2013 elections law overhaul unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled the law targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision” to limit their participation in elections.
State lawmakers contended at the time one team of private attorneys that Cooper and Stein discharged represented the state and should not have been removed from the case.
The governor’s office noted that legislators were not named as a party in the lawsuit.
The state Board of Elections, state elections-board members and its executive director remained named as parties in the suit. Last week, after a meeting with attorneys out of the public earshot, the elections board unanimously approved a motion to write a letter to the state attorney general and inform him that their board has never taken a position on the 2013 overhaul that included an ID provision, nor had they hired the attorneys who have been in court proceedings as counsel for state lawmakers.
Three attorneys from the Washington-based law firm of Gene Schaerr and Kyle Duncan, as well as Thomas Farr, Philip Strach, the husband of the state elections board director, and Michael McKnight from Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, a Raleigh-based firm, submitted a 16-page objection to the Supreme Court with numerous attachments that include transcripts and other court records to highlight their assertions that they have been a part of the case.
The attorneys asked the Supreme Court to add the legislature to the suit.