In a federal courtroom with room for fewer than 100 people in the gallery, an army of attorneys has spent the past week arguing over whether North Carolina’s voter ID law harms the fundamental right to vote.
The trial, which ended Monday, has garnered national attention as courts across the country wrestle with questions about identification laws adopted in the name of preventing voter fraud but criticized as politically motivated attempts to disenfranchise voters of color. It’s unclear when a ruling will come, but it is certain to be appealed.
For many, the case has been a test of what the Voting Rights Act of 1965 means today, almost three years after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the 50-year-old law.
When the country’s highest court freed Southern states that year from the requirement that federal authorities approve any proposed election law changes to ensure no harm to minority voters, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: “Our country has changed.”