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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today denied North Carolina’s request to stay a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the state’s restrictive voting law.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Coalition for Social Justice challenged the law, charging it discriminates against African-American votersand unduly burdens the right to vote, in violation of the U.S Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the law was enacted “with discriminatory intent,” against African Americansand issued a sweeping ruling on July 29 that blocked voter ID and restored a week of early voting, same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct provisional voting.

“The Supreme Court was correct to deny North Carolina’s last-ditch effort to undermine African-American voter participation in the November election. This ruling means that thousands of voters who would have been disenfranchised will now be able to participate in the presidential election,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

The ACLU, ACLU of North Carolina, and Southern Coalition for Social Justice represent the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, North Carolina Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative, and several individuals.

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WASHINGTON –The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a sweeping and historic decision that affords gay and lesbian couples the same legal right to marry and recognition of their marriages as different-sex couples. The ruling invalidates discriminatory laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and as a practical matter, requires all 50 states to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“The Supreme Court today welcomed same-sex couples fully into the American family. Gay and lesbian couples and our families may be at peace knowing that our simple request to be treated like everyone else – that is, to be able to participate in the dignity of marriage – has finally been granted,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. “Today’s historic victory comes on the backs of same-sex couples and advocates who have worked for decades to dismantle harmful stereotypes and unjust laws in the quest for equal treatment.”

The court’s 5-4 opinion holds that state marriage bans violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Recognizing that “marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death,” the Court held that the Constitution grants to same-sex couples the right to “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

"Today's decision has been 50 years in the making and will stand with Brown vs. Board of Education as one of the landmark civil rights moments of our time," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "Now we take the battle for full legal equality to the states, where 31 states have yet to pass any statewide LGBT non-discrimination laws.  The wind is at our backs, and we are now on the cusp of achieving full legal equality for LGBT Americans across the country."

The case is captioned Obergefell v. Hodges and is made up of cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.  The American Civil Liberties Union represented plaintiffs in Kentucky casesBourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear and in Ohio case Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges with private firms.

North Carolina Background:

The ACLU filed the first legal challenge to North Carolina’s marriage ban in June 2013 when it amended a 2012 lawsuit seeking second parent adoption rights for six families headed by same-sex couples. The adoption lawsuit, Fisher-Borne, et al. v. Smith, was originally filed in June 2012, just weeks after passage of the state’s marriage ban, known as Amendment One, which the ACLU lobbied and campaigned against. In April 2014, the ACLU filed a second lawsuit, Gerber and Berlin, et al. v. Smith, challenging North Carolina’s marriage ban on behalf of three married same-sex couples, one member of which has a serious medical condition. In October 2014, U.S. District Judge William Osteen issued a ruling in both cases that declared North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples to be unconstitutional.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it would not review a ruling striking down North Carolina’s 2011 law that would have forced a woman to undergo a narrated ultrasound before receiving abortion care. The Court’s decision means the law, which had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups, cannot go into effect.

“North Carolinians should take comfort in knowing that this intrusive and unconstitutional law, which placed the ideological agenda of politicians above a doctor’s ability to provide a patient with the specific care she needs, will never go into effect,” said Sarah Preston, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “We’re very glad the courts have recognized that politicians have no business interfering in personal medical decisions that should be left to a woman and her doctor.”

In December 2014, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in December 2014 affirmed that the law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians by forcing them to deliver politically motivated communications to a patient even over the patient’s objection, declaring that “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”

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RALEIGH – A federal judge in Asheville today ruled that North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Judge Max Cogburn’s ruling extends the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in North Carolina and requires North Carolina to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.

“This is a historic day for freedom and equality in North Carolina,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Thousands of North Carolinians are now able to marry the person they love and receive the dignity and legal security that comes with having that marriage recognized in their home state. For countless couples and their children, this victory is nothing short of life changing.”  

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