While various leftist groups are in a frenzy of delight because the US Supreme Court refused to hear North Carolina’s Voter ID case, the real “high-fives” are reserved for Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein. Because they muddied the legal waters surrounding the case, the Court declined to allow it to come before them.
From the official Court blog website, how they muddied the waters is described. Shortly after assuming office, Stein moved to dismiss the petition, initially on behalf of only the Governor and the State. A few days later, however, Stein then filed a supplemental motion to dismiss on behalf of all named petitioners.
Remarkably, a legal case that began under Gov. Pat McCrory, essentially had its plug pulled by the administration of his successor.
The Court order reiterates how the NC General Assembly leadership, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and President Pro-tem of the Senate Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) tried to keep the case alive: “The North Carolina General Assembly objected, arguing that North Carolina law does not authorize the state Attorney General to dismiss the petition on behalf of the State and instead expressly permits the Assembly to retain private counsel to defend SL 2013–381 on behalf of North Carolina.
The Speaker and the President pro tempore of the Assembly have also filed a conditional motion to intervene, asking this Court to add the General Assembly as a petitioner in the event the Court finds that the Attorney General may withdraw the petition.”
These assertions were countered by private respondents who said that Berger and Moore do not have standing to represent the state in federal court.
Rather than slosh through the surrounding muddy water of who can or can’t represent the state, the Court took a pass. The final paragraph of their order reads, “Given the blizzard of filings over who is and who is not authorized to seek review in this Court under North Carolina law, it is important to recall our frequent admonition that ‘[t]he denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case.’ United States v. Carver, 260 U. S. 482, 490 (1923).” Chief Justice Roberts quoted a 1923 case to cement his admonishment that the merits of the case had not been judged.
Moore and Berger issued a statement following the Court’s decision not to hear the case. “It is unconscionable that Roy Cooper and Josh Stein – who ignored state law and flouted their conflicts of interest to kill voter ID in North Carolina – have now caused the vast majority of voters who support voter ID to be denied their day in court,” said Berger and Moore.
“In light of Chief Justice Roberts’ statement that the ruling was not based on the merits of voter ID, all North Carolinians can rest assured that Republican legislators will continue fighting to protect the integrity of our elections by implementing the commonsense requirement to show a photo ID when we vote.”
Round one appears to have gone to Cooper, Stein and the groups that oppose voter ID. But, clearly the battle isn’t over. While some may misinterpret today’s inaction by the Court to be a victory against North Carolina’s voter ID law, the truth is that the Left won today on a procedural anomaly.
Cooper and Stein may be “high-fiving” today over their shrewd legal move that stopped the Voter ID case cold, but there will be another day and another battle, and Moore and Berger will be ready.