North Carolina will appeal last week’s ruling by three federal judges that overturned voter photo identification and other elections law changes without help from its attorney general.
Attorney General Roy Cooper on Tuesday said the state tried its best to defend against the lawsuit but lost. Outside counsel already involved in the case can handle an appeal, he said.
Gov. Pat McCrory immediately called a news conference to denounce Cooper, the Democratic who is challenging him in the November election, for refusing to defend the state against this and other politically charged lawsuits.
McCrory said the ruling would be appealed, and that the parties involved were deciding whether to go to the full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We’re very disappointed to hear that again his office is not willing to do his job,” McCrory said. “In fact, I question whether he should even accept a paycheck from the state of North Carolina anymore because he continues to not do his job, as his oath of office requires him to do.”
“Attorneys with our office put forward their best arguments but the court found that the law was intentional discrimination and we will not appeal,” the attorney general’s spokeswoman, Noelle Talley, said. “Other parties are adequately represented if they choose to appeal further, although additional appeals would only incur more expense and foster uncertainty with the approaching election and early voting.”
. The governor defended the elections law, which also shortened the number of early-voting days, prohibited out-of-precinct voting and changed registration procedures, and criticized the federal three-judge panel as partisan, and said it worked well in the primary this year. He insisted the motive behind the law was preventing voter fraud not to make it more difficult for minorities to vote.
“To assume there’s not the potential for people abusing the ballot box when there’s so much at stake and so much money I think is being naive,” McCrory said of the upcoming general election.
Cooper spoke to reporters before the news conference without mentioning he wouldn’t pursue an appeal. But the attorney general said he didn’t think an appeal would change the outcome of the ruling by the three-judge panel.
“I think this is what we’re going to have,” Cooper said following a meeting of the Council of State. “The Board of Elections needs to work on expanding the early voting hours, making sure that same-day registration is re-instituted, and obviously the voter ID portion would not be allowed any more.”
Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, made it clear he agrees with the ruling throwing out the legislature’s 2013 rewrite of election laws.
“The bottom line is people will have more opportunities to register and vote, which was the origin of the laws that were passed in the first place — the ones that, it looks like now, were illegally overturned by the governor and the General Assembly.”
The attorney general’s office notified the governor’s general counsel of the decision on Monday.