North Carolina’s Supreme Court on Friday struck down a state voter ID requirement, finding that it was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose and violated the state’s constitution.

Senate Bill 824 — which was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2018 over a veto from its Democratic governor — sought to implement a state constitutional amendment requiring photo ID to vote. 

The court found that while the law appeared neutral on its face, it was enacted “to target African-American voters who were unlikely to vote for Republican candidates.”

“In doing so, we do not conclude that the General Assembly harbored racial animus; however, we conclude just as the trial court did, that in passing S.B. 824, the Republican majority ‘targeted voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party,’” the court said in its ruling in Holmes v. Moore.

The court pointed to the disparate impacts the law was likely to have on Black voters, as well as the Republican-controlled legislature’s “unprecedented” decision to convene a lame-duck session to pass the amendment while they still had a supermajority.

The North Carolina Supreme Court also noted that the legislature could have passed a less restrictive voter ID law to achieve its goals.

“Given the rarity of voter fraud in North Carolina, a less restrictive law could have been sufficient to deter voter fraud and promote voter confidence in elections had this goal been the law’s only actual purpose,” the court added.