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North Carolina justices weigh whether more felons can vote

scales of justice

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's Supreme Court is deciding whether people convicted of felonies should be permitted to vote if they aren't serving prison time but are on probation or parole or have to yet pay fines.

The justices scheduled oral arguments on Thursday in a lawsuit filed by several civil rights groups and ex-offenders in 2019.

By last year, a panel of trial judges agreed with the plaintiffs that a law laying out when felony offenders get voting rights restored violated the state constitution and disproportionately harmed Black residents. These and other judges' decisions affected roughly 56,000 people.

The law was approved in the early 1970s. Current legislative leaders defending the law say it treats all felony offenders the same and sets a bright line for voting once all punishments are completed.

This week marks the first in which the Supreme Court has heard arguments since Republicans took a majority of seats after the November elections.

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