Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision on Tuesday requiring North Dakota voters to have certain types of ID and a street address to vote—likely disenfranchising thousands of voters. (Photo: Penn State/Flickr/cc)

'Welcome to the Future': SCOTUS Ruling on North Dakota's Voter ID Law Underscores Nationwide GOP Attack on Voting Rights

"This is why the Supreme Court matters...It's about the very nature of American democracy. And, oh yeah, about racism too."

Julia Conley

As the U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld a North Dakota voter ID requirement, it likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of the state's residents—particularly Democratic-leaning Native American voters—and made clear that the highest court in the land will do little to protect Americans from the Republican Party's rampant attacks on voting rights.

The court ruled in favor of the Eighth Circuit Court's decision that allowed the state to require all voters to have a residential street address and an accepted form of ID which includes that address.

The requirement, introduced in 2017 by GOP Gov. Doug Burgum, blatantly disenfranchises indigenous voters, many of whom live on reservations and use P.O. boxes instead of street addresses.

"Access to voting should not be dependent on whether one lives in a city or on a reservation," Jacqueline De León, an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), which is representing several plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. "The District Court in North Dakota has found this voter identification law to be discriminatory; nothing in the law has changed since that finding. North Dakota Native American voters will now have to vote under a system that unfairly burdens them more than other voters. We will continue to fight this discriminatory law."

Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the ruling, but The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan pointed out that his ability to now rule on issues like voting rights as a judge on the highest court in the country, was part of what Kavanaugh's opponents feared last week as they called for the Senate to reject his nomination.

Voters who didn't meet the stipulation were permitted to vote in the primary elections earlier this year, but last month a federal district court sought to enforce the law for the general election. The Supreme Court ruled against NARF's request to further delay implementation of the law.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shared grave concerns that the rule could leave tens of thousands of the state's voters unable to vote in November:

The risk of disenfranchisement is large... Seventy thousand North Dakota residents—almost 20 percent of the turnout in a regular quadrennial election—lack a qualifying ID; and approximately 18,000 North Dakota residents also lack supplemental documentation sufficient to permit them to vote without a qualifying ID.

The rule comes amid several other voting rights battles in states including Georgia, where Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor, has accused Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp of systematic voter suppression. Kemp—who is Abrams' opponent in the gubernatorial race—oversees the state office where hundreds of thousands of voter registrations have been canceled since 2017.

Ongoing legal battles over who should be afforded the right to vote will likely continue under the new Supreme Court following Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation last weekend, critics said Wednesday. Kavanaugh has ruled several times in favor of strict voter ID laws that have disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters, disproportionately affecting people of color.

On social media, the local group North Dakota Native Vote shared advice for Native American residents who fear the rule may keep them from exercising their right to vote.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Officials Warn of 'Record-Shattering Month' for Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Following deadly strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, Oxfam is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn attacks on Yemenis and to "inject new urgency" into peace talks.

Jessica Corbett ·

Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total 'Fiction'

"The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe, or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm."

Jessica Corbett ·

Air and Water Under Threat as SCOTUS Targets Environmental Laws

"It seems like we have a new conservative supermajority on the court that is much more inclined to do a slash-and-burn expedition through our major environmental laws."

Julia Conley ·

'Historic Turning Point': Cuba Issues Plan for Vaccine Internationalism

"This lifesaving package," said the head of Progressive International's delegation to Cuba, exemplifies public health and science being "placed above private profit and petty nationalism."

Kenny Stancil ·

Fridays For Future Announces Global Climate Strike for March 25

"Join us for the Global Climate Strike as we demand policymakers and world leaders to prioritize #PeopleNotProfit!"

Common Dreams staff ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo