Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected hearing North Carolina’s long contested Voter ID case.
The Supreme Court’s rejection seems to hinge on the chaos surrounding the, “blizzard of filings” with regard to who is and who is not authorized to seek review of the case:
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).
That blizzard of filings refers to the multiple filings by the legislature’s attorneys, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Pro Tempore and NC Attorney General Josh Stein.
Attorney General Josh Stein attempted, illegally according to the General Assembly, to have the case dismissed.
The private attorneys hired by the North Carolina Legislature filed an objection with the court to Stein’s request for dismissal.
The brief filed by the General Assembly called Stein’s maneuver, “a politically-motivated attempt to hijack a certiorari petition in a major Voting Rights Act case, in violation of the plain terms of North Carolina law and the canons of professional ethics.”
The General Assembly also expressed outrage that Stein had not even consulted with them before filing his motion for dismissal.
Also mentioned the General Assembly’s brief was that Stein was a witness in the earlier Voter ID trial.
The brief states that Stein, “testified at the trial in this case, for the plaintiffs, and against the validity of the very laws the state’s certiorari petition seeks to vindicate.”
The NC Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore also filed a motion of their own which asked the court to add the General Assembly as one of the petitioners.
Attorney Elliot Engstrom, of Engstrom Law LLPC, said that he thought the decision to stay out of the case was driven mainly by creating uncertainty over who really has authority over the case.
“In his two-page order, Chief Justice Roberts specifically noted that the Court was making no comment on who it believed is the proper party to speak in federal court on behalf of the State of North Carolina,” said Engstrom.
“It seems that Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein’s strategy was to create a climate of uncertainty surrounding who has the power to speak for the State of North Carolina in federal court — the Governor or the General Assembly — in the hopes that the Supreme Court would opt to take a hands-off approach. That strategy paid off,” Engstrom said.
Engstrom also remarked that North Carolina law specifically provides that the General Assembly may intervene in, “any judicial proceeding challenging a North Carolina statute.”
“On its face, this would seem to authorize the General Assembly to speak for the State in federal court,” Engstrom continued. “However, the Governor pointed to the provision’s presence in the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure and its references to state court proceedings as potentially limiting its reach to state court proceedings.”
“The Governor ultimately argued, successfully, that any conflict needed to be resolved by North Carolina’s courts,” concluded Engstrom.
View the Supreme Court’s denial below: