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Paul, Weiss Achieves Landmark Victory in North Carolina Voter ID Case

As reported by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other news outlets, Paul, Weiss, together with co-counsel Southern Coalition for Social Justice, secured a very significant voting rights victory when a three-judge panel of the Wake County Superior Court struck down North Carolina’s 2018 voter ID law, S.B. 824, following a 14-day bench trial in April.

The panel majority found the evidence at trial sufficient to show that the enactment of S.B. 824 was “motivated at least in part by an unconstitutional intent to target African American voters.”

In reaching its conclusion, the panel considered North Carolina’s history of racially discriminatory voter ID laws, including S.B. 824’s direct predecessor, H.B. 589, which had been struck down in 2016 by the Fourth Circuit because of similar discriminatory intent. The panel also considered the legislative history of S.B. 824, which was hurriedly passed in a lame duck session with limited opportunities for discussion and debate, and over the Governor’s veto. The panel concluded that this “extremely rushed” process left insufficient time to address concerns regarding the law’s impact on African American voters. The panel majority additionally held that S.B. 824 disproportionately burdened African American voters, who are more likely to lack a qualifying ID than white voters, and that the legislative defendants’ proffered nonracial motivations did not stand up to scrutiny.

The Paul, Weiss team was led by litigation associates Paul Brachman and David Giller, both of whom conducted direct and cross examinations of key witnesses at trial; Paul also presented closing arguments. The team was supervised by litigation partners Andrew Ehrlich and Jane O’Brien, and included litigation associates Benjamin Symons, Amitav Chakraborty, Ryan Rizzuto, Taylor Williams, Samuel Patterson, Matteo Godi and Ethan Merel.

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