A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today struck down North Carolina’s new voter identification law with a sharply-worded criticism of the lower court that upheld the law, saying it “chose not to see the forest for the trees,” and of the North Carolina legislature, saying its intent to discriminate was clear. From the New York Times report:

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” the Fourth Circuit panel said of the district court ruling that upheld the law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

It was clear the North Carolina General Assembly “enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” the panel, seated in Richmond, Va., wrote.  The Times the ruling noted came swiftly after the lower court’s April ruling and three months before Election Day. 


The law was applied during the primaries, disenfranchising around 5 percent of North Carolina’s registered voters, many of them students, according to Think Progress.