On Friday, a North Carolina appeals court struck down a law that would require voters to show photo ID at the ballot box, saying that the law intentionally discriminated against African-American voters.
The three-judge panel said that the law passed by the state legislature targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”
“We cannot ignore the recent evidence that, because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolinahistory,” Judge Diana Motz wrote.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised the decision, saying that it protected the rights of citizens “to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation.”
However, Republican leaders suggested that the decision was made in order to give Democrats a better hold on the swing state, where Hillary Clinton has been polling much better with African-Americans than Donald Trump has.
“We can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and (state Attorney General) Roy Cooper to steal the election,” said a statement from state lawmakers Phil Berger and Tim Moore, who argued that the decision ignored legal precedent.
On the other hand, voting rights activists have lauded the decision.
“This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade,” Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.
On Saturday’s episode of MSNBC’s The Reid Report, voting rights expert Ari Berman broke down for Joy Reid just how the GOP had tried to block the voting rights of African-Americans.
“Today the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated these restrictions, which it said ‘targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision’ in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment,” he said.
“(T)hey did so just a month after the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act,” he added “John Roberts said it was a thing of the past. The Fourth Circuit said all of these things were meant to target black voters.”
“Republicans in North Carolina targeted all the methods that African-Americans had used successfully: early voting, same day voter registration,” Berman went on. “These are things that allowed Barack Obama to win North Carolina in 2008 by a very small margin. That’s why the court found that this was intentional criminal discrimination, that the North Carolina legislature knew black voters were going to be the target and that’s why they did it. It wasn’t about stopping voter fraud.”