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Supreme Court rejects appeal over North Carolina voting restrictions; trial set for July

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has passed up an early chance to review a contested North Carolina election law that opponents say limits the ability of African-Americans to cast ballots.

The high court intervened in October to order that the law remain in effect for the fall elections after a lower court ruling blocking part of the law.

But the justices on Monday wiped away their earlier order by rejecting the state's appeal of that lower court ruling. The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia had blocked a part of the law that eliminated same-day registration during early voting in North Carolina.

A trial is set for July in the lawsuit filed by civil rights groups, and the issue of voting restrictions could return to the Supreme Court before the 2016 elections.

North Carolina is among several Republican-led states that have passed election laws imposing photo identification requirements and reducing the number of days set aside for early voting, among other provisions. Officials have said the measures are needed to prevent voter fraud. But critics have called the laws thinly veiled efforts to make it harder for Democratic-leaning minorities to vote.

The next elections in North Carolina are in September at the local level. The next statewide contest is the presidential primary in early 2016.

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