The law would have established a list of valid government-issued photo IDs that voters could present at their polling places; allowed anyone without a photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles; and allowed anyone who still had difficulty obtaining a valid ID to fill out a reasonable impediment affidavit and still have their vote counted.
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina, upon the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act immediately had set out to study how African-Americans voted, then designed a voter ID law around those patterns.
The ruling gave few details about why the court left a lower-court decision in place that struck down the restrictions and stated they "target African Americans with nearly surgical precision".
Official portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts. In a statement, the chief justice wrote that the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case "imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case", meaning that if North Carolina or another state could pass a similar law, as the courts have not definitively proven that such a law is unconstitutional. "While Governor Cooper and Attorney General (Josh) Stein have stymied voter ID for now, they will ultimately lose in their efforts to block North Carolina citizens from having these protections".
"Today's announcement is good news for North Carolina voters", Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.
The justices' decision to reject the appeal sets no legal precedent and does not necessarily mean the conservative-leaning court would not endorse such laws in future. These included more strict voter ID, a seven-day reduction of early voting, nullification of votes issued in the incorrect district, and the end of same day voter registration.
And last summer the Supreme Court had divided evenly on whether the law could be used in last fall's election while the appeals continued.
FILE North Carolina voters wait in line outside a library in Asheville on Super Tuesday, March 15, 2016. North Carolina legislators had requested data on voting patterns by race and, with that data in hand, drafted a law that would "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision", the court said. Supporters said the measure was necessary to crack down on voter fraud, but opponents said the changes discourage voting by black and Hispanic residents, who use early voting or same-day registration more than white voters and are more likely to lack photo ID. The law was part of a campaign by Republicans in multiple states created to cut down on voters - especially minority and younger voters - who vote mostly for Democrats.
The Supreme Court ruling effectively eliminated the requirement that parts of 15 states with histories of discrimination, including North Carolina, get federal approval before changing their voting rules.
"We need to be making it easier to vote, not harder", Cooper said.
The appeals court ruled the North Carolina law's provisions "target African-Americans with nearly surgical precision" and "impose cures for problems that did not exist", concluding that the Republican-led legislature enacted the measure "with discriminatory intent".
All North Carolinians should want fraud-free elections.
It is important to note that this was not a ruling, nor does the denial of cert in this case say anything whatsoever about the constitutionality of voter ID laws.