The North Carolina Supreme Court recently issued three significant election rulings regarding Voter ID, Political Gerrymandering, and Felon voting. These decisions have led many left-wing activists to proclaim this “the end of democracy.” The irony of this claim is clearly lost on them.
Courts had previously morphed themselves into a policy-making body in all three cases, moving away from the normal confines of the judiciary. The clearest example comes from the lower court’s choice to completely ignore the clear language in the constitution in the felon voting ruling.
In the case of Community Success Initiative v. Moore, the Wake County Superior Court struck down North Carolina’s re-enfranchisement law for Felon’s saying it was unconstitutional due to its disproportionate impact against minorities. This flies in the face of the North Carolina state constitution, which spells out in clear language that felons are denied the right to vote unless legislation prescribes a remedy:
“No person adjudged guilty of a felony against this State or the United States, or adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, shall be permitted to vote unless that person shall be first restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.”
The issue with this ruling was summarized by the John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Integrity Director Andy Jackson.
“So, a lower court could not find felon disenfranchisement unconstitutional since it is part of the state constitution. Instead, it went after the law the General Assembly passed in the 1970s establishing procedures for convicted felons to regain their right to vote after they have completed probation or parole. A Superior Court panel ruled 2-1 in March 2022 that the re-enfranchisement law was unconstitutional.
Normally, if a law is struck down, you revert to the status quo before the law. That would mean that no convicted felons would have the right to vote since their disenfranchisement is enshrined in the state constitution. However, in a classic case of judicial activism, the lower court had rewritten the law itself so that felons still under state supervision could vote.”
With the Supreme Court’s rejection of the lower court’s ruling, we are now back to the rule of law. The judiciary is not a law-making body; that power is granted solely to the legislature, and the constitution clearly outlines its authority in this matter.
In their ruling, the lower court ignored the state constitution’s clear language and attempted to usurp legislative authority and prescribe its own remedy directly.
Felons in North Carolina are allowed to vote once their sentences are completed. Individuals on parole are still serving a sentence and, as such, still have reduced rights of citizens. This includes not only the right to vote, but also the right to bear arms, freedom of movement, and freedom of association. This is not only supported by the State and US constitutions, but also has been upheld by the US Supreme Court.
The North Carolina Supreme Court was correct to reject this clear example of judicial activism by the lower court. The judiciary should not be used as a vehicle to subvert the clear language in our constitution.