FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 28th, 2023
After 276 days of Freedom to the Ballot, New North Carolina Supreme Court Strips Voting Rights Away for Over 56,000 North Carolinians
In a decision slammed by advocates, the NC Supreme Court releases a ruling on the CSI v. Moore lawsuit rolling back voting rights for thousands, and reinstating the state’s racist felony disenfranchisement laws, including a requirement to pay money to regain the right to vote
RALEIGH, NC — In a 5 to 2 decision today, split along partisan and racial lines, the North Carolina Supreme Court stripped voting rights away from thousands of North Carolinians with prior convictions, disproportionately African Americans, who had their right to register and cast a ballot restored by Court order on July 27, 2022, some 276 days. Writing in the dissent, Justice Anita Earls summed, “The majority’s decision in this case will one day be repudiated on two grounds. First, because it seeks to justify the denial of a basic human right to citizens and thereby perpetuates a vestige of slavery, and second, because the majority violates a basic tenant of appellate review by ignoring the facts as found by the trial court and substituting its own.”
Dennis Gaddy, Director of Community Success Initiative said, “Future generations will remember today as the day that democracy was gutted in North Carolina and voter suppression re-emerged in the supreme court. Stripping away the right to vote from over 56,000 people who had finally gotten their voices back clearly demonstrates just how dedicated our officials are to silencing the people whose rights they are supposed to protect. It shows their commitment to knowingly and willingly upholding racist laws and practices designed specifically to disenfranchise Black voters. We are disappointed but not deterred. We will be at the General Assembly on May 2nd to make our voices heard. We will not stand idly by while the rights and freedoms granted to us by birth are taken away by those who do not believe in redemption, equity, and full access to a free and fair democracy. ”
Shakita Norman, an individual plaintiff in the lawsuit, who was able to vote in 2022 because of the court victory, said, “This decision is just plain wrong. If you’re telling us we can no longer vote, are you also telling us that we don’t have to pay taxes? This isn’t right. This makes us feel like we aren’t even American citizens. We’ve had a long fight and to see our hard-fought victory taken away because of the politics of people is frustrating and sickening. Why can’t we have a voice in how things are governed?”
Daryl Atkinson, Co-Director of Forward Justice and Lead attorney on the case says, “Our clients had 276 days of freedom and equal access to democracy – a period of unprecedented inclusion in North Carolina’s democracy. Today the newly seated North Carolina Supreme Court silenced the voices of more than 56,000 people – disproportionately Black voters – living in communities all across North Carolina, paying taxes, an equal voice in our democracy. But, we are not deterred. Tomorrow, the fight for justice continues. Join us on May the 2nd for Second Chance Lobby Day when the directly impacted people will bring this issue and many others to the North Carolina General Assembly. Now the ball is in their court.”
Plaintiffs and Counsel will hold a full press conference on Tuesday May 2nd at Second Chance Lobby Day. Second Chance Lobby Day is the bi-annual advocacy day, solely focused on advocating for policies that remove barriers for people whose lives have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Hundreds of Second Chance advocates are planning to gather to collectively share their stories and speak to legislators about the urgent changes that should be made to NC laws to honor the humanity and dignity of people impacted by the criminal justice system and eliminate barriers to full citizenship.
A language guide on discussing these issues using people-centered language can be found here.
Additional Information: In November 2019, Forward Justice, Arnold & Porter, and Protect Democracy filed the CSI v. Moore lawsuit on behalf of four organizational plaintiffs, Community Success Initiative, N.C. NAACP State Conference, Wash Away Unemployment, and Justice Served as well as six individual plaintiffs in Wake County Superior Court, seeking to reinstate voting rights for over 55,000 North Carolinians previously convicted of felonies who live in our communities but had not been restored the right to vote due to an unconstitutional felony disenfranchisement law.
Learn more about the case and campaign at Unlockourvotenc.org
About the N.C. NAACP
North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP (“North Carolina NAACP”) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization composed of over 100 branches throughout the state of North Carolina. The fundamental mission of the North Carolina NAACP is the advancement and improvement of the political, civil, educational, social, and economic status of minority groups; the elimination of racial prejudice; the publicizing of adverse effects of racial discrimination; and the initiation of lawful action to secure the elimination of racial bias. www.naacpnc.org
About Forward Justice
Forward Justice is a nonpartisan law, policy and strategy center dedicated to advancing racial, social, and economic justice in the U.S. South. Our work catalyzes success for social movements and expands opportunities for people affected
by injustice. www.ForwardJustice.org
Unlock Our Vote NC
A website dedicated to providing information and resources on the right to vote for NC citizens on probation, parole, or post-release supervision for felony convictions.