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5 Things to Know: NC Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law, District Maps

...and four more stories from Dec. 11-17, 2022

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A sign on the side of a street reading "Vote Here." The NC Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state's current voter ID law is unconstitutional.
The NC Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state’s current voter ID law is an unconstitutional measure passed in part to discriminate against African American voters. (AdobeStock)

NC Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law

The North Carolina Supreme Court made two major rulings on Friday, striking down the General Assembly’s remedial Senate map, which was used in the 2022 general election, as well as the legislature’s most recent iteration of a photo voter ID law.

The court found that the remedial map, a solution to one that was already ruled an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, was still more of the same. The court ordered the trial court to oversee changes to the remedial Senate plan to bring it into state Constitutional compliance.

The court also affirmed the trial court’s order putting in place a court-modified Interim Congressional Map, which was used in the 2022 election, agreeing with the trial court’s earlier decision to reject the General Assembly’s remedial Congressional map as a partisan gerrymander. The high court also affirmed the acceptance of lawmakers’ remedial House map.

“A trial court may not simply find that a districting plan meets certain factual, statistical measures and therefore dispositively, legally conclude based on those measures alone that the plan is constitutionally compliant,” the opinion states. Instead, the courts must determine the “ultimate legal conclusion: whether the plan upholds the fundamental right of the people to vote on equal terms and to substantially equal voting power.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule next summer on Moore v. Harper, in which NC House Speaker Tim Moore argues that the courts do not have the right to make rulings such as the one made on Friday. 

The court also ruled Friday that the state’s current voter ID law is an unconstitutional measure passed in part to discriminate against African American voters.

“While most people who have one of the acceptable forms of photo identification do not run the risk of being disenfranchised by this statute, the experiences of plaintiffs and other witnesses at trial showed that for themselves and others like them, the risk of disenfranchisement is very real,” the opinion states. “But the guarantee of the equal protection of the laws means that a law enacted with the intent to discriminate on the basis of race is unconstitutional even if no voter ultimately is disenfranchised because racial classifications of any sort pose the risk of lasting harm to our society.” 


New CMS Board Members Sworn In

Five new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education members were sworn in on Tuesday night, the most turnaround the board has ever seen in one election. One familiar face will remain at the head of the dais, as incumbent chair Elyse Dashew was approved to keep her position as board chair through unanimous vote.

The new members are Melissa Easley, representing District 1; Gregory “Dee” Rankin, representing District 3; Stephanie Sneed, representing District 4; Lisa Cline, representing District 5; and Summer Nunn, representing District 6. Thelma Byers-Bailey, who represents District 2, was re-elected to a third term. These newly installed members will serve a three-year term ending in December 2025.

Sneed, for whom some had lobbied to replace Dashew as chair, was elected vice-chair by her fellow board members. The Board called a special meeting on Friday afternoon presumably to discuss a new interim superintendent, as current interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh announced in November that he will leave his position at the end of the year, six months before his one-year contract is up. No announcement has yet been made. 


Albermarle Corporation Announces New HQ in Charlotte

Albemarle Corporation, a global specialty chemicals company, has selected Mecklenburg County for its advanced lithium technology and research and development center, creating 205 jobs in University City, according to a press release put out on Tuesday.

“Albemarle is focused on lithium technology leadership because it drives value for our customers and advances the world’s transition to more sustainable energy,” said Kent Masters, Albemarle CEO, in the release. “We’re proud to be making this investment in our headquarter city and to be contributing to our state and local economy in this capacity.”

A lithium mine in Esmeralda County, Nevada. (Photo by Doc Searls/Creative Commons)

Albemarle will invest $200 million to develop the technology park that will focus on the research and development of advanced materials, novel process development, and next-generation lithium products. The release claims that, “Innovations from the new site will enhance lithium recovery, improve production methods, and introduce new forms of lithium that will propel lithium-ion batteries and the electric vehicle sector even further.”

Piedmont Lithium is currently lobbying to dig a 1,500-acre open-pit lithium mine in Gaston County, raising environmental concerns for some in the area


Two People Shot at Northlake Mall

A verbal argument reportedly led to a shooting inside Northlake Mall on Thursday afternoon, resulting in two people shot and one arrest on Thursday afternoon. According to CMPD, the call came in shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday. Responding officers found two gunshot victims and an on-duty officer at the mall arrested the suspect — believed to be the only shooter and not one of the gunshot victims — at the scene.

Medic originally reported that both victims were transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, though CMPD later stated that the injuries “were determined to be non-life threatening” once they arrived at the hospital.

CMPD on Friday announced three arrests in connection with the incident, stating that a 19-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, while a 17-year-old juvenile and 21-year-old man were charged with assault. 


Yearly Homicide Total Surpasses 105

Three people were killed in Charlotte this week, bringing the total number of homicides in the city this year to 106, not counting the five that have been deemed “justified homicides.” This year’s total has surpassed the 2021 total of 98 homicides, though it has not reached the 2020 total of 118. 

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, police responded to a shots fired call on Tom Hunter Road near North Tryon Street in north Charlotte. Though officers did not find any victims at that time, 32-year-old Lawrence Green showed up at the hospital shortly thereafter and was pronounced dead. Also known by his rap name Properdadon, Green was shot in the parking lot of the convenience mart where he had filmed a music video that was released just three weeks ago.

 

At around 7:40 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call on North Tryon Street just across the street from where Green was killed and found 61-year-old Toelodo Pena suffering from life-threatening injuries. Medic transported the man to the hospital, where he died the next day. A 42-year-old man was arrested and charged with Pena’s murder.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a shooting call on Katherine Kiker Road in the Newell area of northeast Charlotte, where they found 20-year-old David Manning dead from a gunshot wound on the side of the road.


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