AG Stein requests dismissal of SCOTUS petition on 2013 voting law

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Attorney General-elect Josh Stein addresses supporters at N.C. State. FILE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein filed a request to dismiss the General Assembly’s appeal over the Voter ID law pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appeal filed by N.C. lawmakers asked justices to hear arguments on the 2013 voting law after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law last year.

Stein petitioned to stop the appeal, saying that attorneys for the plaintiffs have agreed to waive $12 million in legal fees if the petition is dismissed.

“In addition to protecting voting rights for North Carolinians, my actions can save the state $12 million in potential liability,” said Stein in a news release Tuesday.

Stein joins his AG predecessor, Governor Roy Cooper, in saying he will not defend the Voter ID law, something that Cooper was criticized for doing.

Republicans said it meant he was neglecting his duties as the state’s top lawyer, forcing them to seek outside counsel.

Both Cooper and Stein ran their campaigns to the November election criticizing the Voter ID law and other measures championed by Republicans. Stein’s move against the appeal on Tuesday brought the same fire from Republicans they had for Cooper over the law.

“Roy Cooper’s and Josh Stein’s desperate and politically-motivated stunt to derail North Carolina’s voter ID law is not only illegal, it also raises serious questions about whether they’ve allowed their own personal and political prejudices and conflicts of interest to cloud their professional judgment,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain). “We expect the courts to reject this unethical stunt just as they did when Cooper tried the same trick in the ‘Choose Life’ license tag case.”

They are referring to Cooper’s refusal to defend a law in 2014 that allowed the DMV to offer “Choose Life” license plates without offering an opposing option. Ultimately, the court allowed the plates.

Calling it an attempt to fire the legislature’s attorneys, Republicans pointed out that an Elon University Poll taken after the law passed found that seventy percent of registered voters in N.C. supported the Voter ID law, with 96 percent of Republicans approving it, followed by 75 percent of registered Independents and 45 percent of Democrats.