The restrictions harked back to the state's Jim Crow past, the court said, and targeted racial minorities "with nearly surgical precision".
The North Carolina law was enacted in 2013, a month after the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law that opened the polls to millions of black Americans.
The Rev. William Barber says in a news release that the victory is "unimaginably important for African-Americans, Latinos, all North Carolinians and the nation".
The appeals court found that the North Carolina law's provisions "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision" and "impose cures for problems that did not exist", concluding that the Republican-led legislature enacted the measure "with discriminatory intent". But the Republican-led state legislature said it should be able to intervene to defend the law. The decision had been deadlocked 4-4, but the appointment by President Trump earlier this year of conservative Neil Gorsuch appeared to have tipped the balance.
In a statement released along with the refusal, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made reference to the "blizzard of findings" over who might appropriately appeal in a statement. The state's Republican governor appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking reinstatement of the law, and the case was viewed as the upcoming constitutional test of voting restrictions that intentionally target racial groups in order to gain partisan advantage.
"This is a big deal and VERY good news for the voting- rights community", tweeted Rick Hasen, an election-law expert and law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Some of these have been permitted by judges and others amended, while some have been struck down by judges who ruled they were created to discriminate against minorities.
On Twitter, the NC GOP announced that it would be holding a press conference in response to the decision Monday afternoon.
The law, adopted days after the Supreme Court effectively struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, requires voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting ballots. Last July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals prevented much of the legislation from being enforced during the 2016 election. That decision was decried as having "sounded the death knell" for a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. "However, as noted by Chief Justice Roberts, 'The denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case.' Republicans will continue to fight for common sense and constitutional voter I.D. measures, similar to what many other states already have". The law's voter identification provision, for instance, "retained only those types of photo ID disproportionately held by whites and excluded those disproportionately held by African Americans". That court ruled that the law's photo ID requirement and reduction in early voting was discriminatory.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to not hear a defence of the law. Stein and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had tried to withdraw the appeal, which was first filed when Republican Pat McCrory was governor.