Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction on North Carolina Voter Suppression Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2015
CONTACT: Cynthia Gordy, 202-341-0555
Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction on North Carolina Voter Suppression Law, Undermining Access to Ballot this November
WASHINGTON – Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina denied a preliminary injunction to block application of North Carolina’s massive voter suppression law, H.B. 589, in the November 2014 general election. The court also denied the State’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that plaintiffs had presented plausible legal claims that require a full trial on the merits. That trial is set for next summer.
The measure is now set to abridge the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of citizens in November’s election. Despite evidence that several provisions of the bill disproportionately affect voters of color, Judge Schroeder denied the preliminary injunction on the grounds that plaintiffs had not met the criteria for the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction.
“We are disappointed that the court’s failure to issue a preliminary injunction means that countless North Carolinians could be disenfranchised in this November’s election,” said Penda D. Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, which challenged H.B. 589 on behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, along with co-counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and North Carolina lawyers Adam Stein and Irving Joyner. “With the elimination of same-day registration, the shortening of the early voting period by a week, and preventing out-of-precinct provisional ballots from being counted, this harmful law burdens the constitutional right to vote, especially for voters of color who used those positive reforms at a significantly higher rate than White voters. In a democracy, voting should be fair and accessible to all citizens. In North Carolina this November, that simply will not be the case. We remain confident that when the court has access to the full evidence in this case, and when we have a full trial next summer, we will prevail and ultimately restore the voting rights of North Carolina’s citizens.
“We will not rest in our efforts to ensure that the people can make their voices heard this November,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “The right to vote lies at the heart of our democracy. Our movement against this voter suppression law is built on the legacy of those who have testified before us, with their feet and blood, to fight for equal rights in North Carolina and the nation. We will not falter in our efforts to mobilize until this extreme law is repealed.”
“This is only the beginning of a long legal fight to restore the rights of North Carolina voters and renew the integrity of democracy in the state,” said Denise Lieberman, Advancement Project Senior Attorney. “The rapid and irregular legislative process that forced H.B. 589 through the General Assembly suggests that sponsors knowingly and tactically targeted the very measures that have increased the participation of voters of color. We look forward to driving these points home in next year’s full trial.”
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