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New N.C. Supreme Court hears ex-felons voting rights case today


Today, February 2nd, is the day the new 5-2 Republican majority state Supreme Court hears oral arguments that could decide once and for all whether more than 56,000 former felons will continue to have voting rights in North Carolina.

The new N.C. Republican - led High Court was impaneled January 1st, but did not begin hearing case arguments until this past Tuesday. Many observers are fearful that the GOP lawmakers will exploit the conservative leaning of the state Supreme Court by petitioning it to rehear cases that the previous Democratic-led Supreme Court has decided against them, particularly redistricting and voting rights.

In the case of Community Success Initiative versus Moore, while the previous Democrat-led state Supreme Court issued several court orders allowing ex-felons on probation, parole or post release supervision the right to vote in the November 2022 midterm elections, the issue itself had not been decided by the time that court had left office on December 31st.

Now, the new conservative High Court gets to make the final state decision, and if it were up to Republican lawmakers, ex-felons would be denied the right to vote until they’ve completed all requirements per their release.

Attorneys for the ex-felons will tell the High Court that this is wrong.

“North Carolina required people with previous felony convictions to pay legal financial obligations before they could vote – a practice that disenfranchised thousands of people, predominately people of color. The law was challenged by North Carolinians with prior felony convictions and advocacy groups as a violation of their constitutional rights,” stated the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

“It describes how out of the more than 56,000 people barred from voting due to the law, 42 percent are Black despite Black people representing only 22 percent of the state’s population,” continued SPLC.

The question is, during court arguments today, just how partisan will the conservative 5-2 majority of the N.C. Supreme Court be?