The Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on a controversial North Carolina voter ID law, thereby leaving in place a federal appeals court ruling against certain portions that were criticized for targeting "African Americans with almost surgical precision," The New York Times reports. While it is not customary for the court to explain why it has declined to hear a case, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. indicated the issue had to do with a question of who was authorized to file the appeal on behalf of the state.
Still, "the rebuff was a surprise because four conservative justices previously tried to revive the measure before the 2016 election," Bloomberg Politics writes. "That effort failed because it was an emergency request that required five votes, but the court could have accepted the latest appeal with only four votes."
The Obama administration and civil rights activist groups brought the challenge to the North Carolina law after the state's Republican-controlled legislature enacted it in 2013. Initially a judge rejected the argument that the law violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, but the Fourth Circuit later struck down certain parts of the law for "disproportionately" affecting African-Americans with policies including ID requirements, a smaller window for early voting, and an end to preregistration for some teenagers.