North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat who opposed voter ID laws when he was a lawmaker, was already defending the state Board of Elections in the case, and a federal court lower had already ruled that the interests of the state were adequately represented by Stein. Desk.
The lone dissenter, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, warned that liberally allowing state officials to bring federal civil lawsuits would make such cases unduly difficult for judges.
“It’s hard to overstate the burden the court’s decision will place on the district courts,” wrote Sotomayor, an appointee of President Barack Obama. “Even when the positions of state agents align, this multitude of parties will obstruct federal courts and delay the administration of justice…We should not interpret state law to hijack the ability of federal courts manage disputes involving States.”
Sotomayor also accused his colleagues of ‘making the armchair assumption’ and said it was simply untrue that Stein and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, did not defend the law. , regardless of their opinions of its merits.
“The Court’s finding that the Respondent States failed to adequately represent the interests of the Applicants is a fiction that the record does not support,” she wrote.
The decision comes amid a longstanding dispute in North Carolina over a 2018 state law that would require photo ID to vote. A state court had blocked photo identification requirements in 2021, but litigation over the issue continued in state and federal courts.
After the first round of litigation over the demands’ constitutionality, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly had also explicitly authorized in state law the ability for state legislative leaders to intervene in cases concerning the constitutionality of state action. They did so despite Cooper’s veto.
“Through the General Assembly, the people of North Carolina have authorized the leaders of their legislature to defend the duly enacted laws of the state against constitutional challenge,” Gorsuch concluded. “Normally, a federal court should respect this kind of sovereign choice, not assemble presumptions against it.”