North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. Raymond, No. 20-1092 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Challengers filed suit alleging that a 2018 North Carolina law requiring voters to present photographic identification is unconstitutional because it was enacted with the same discriminatory intent as the 2013 Omnibus Law. The district court found that the Challengers were likely to succeed on the merits of their constitutional claims and issued a preliminary injunction against the law's enforcement.
The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that a legislature's past acts do not condemn the acts of a later legislature, which the court must presume acts in good faith. In this case, the district court considered the General Assembly's discriminatory intent in passing the 2013 Omnibus Law to be effectively dispositive of its intent in passing the 2018 Voter-ID Law. In doing so, it improperly flipped the burden of proof at the first step of its analysis and failed to give effect to the Supreme Court's presumption of legislative good faith in Abbott v. Perez, 138 S. Ct. 2305, 2324 (2018). Consequently, these errors fatally infected its finding of discriminatory intent.
Furthermore, once the proper burden and the presumption of good faith are applied, the Challengers fail to meet their burden of showing that the General Assembly acted with discriminatory intent in passing the 2018 Voter-ID Law. The court considered the Arlington Heights factors—the sequence of events leading to enactment, legislative history, and disparate impact—and concluded that they cannot support a finding of discriminatory intent. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion in issuing the preliminary injunction.