Presidential Election 2008


Supreme Court Approves Voter ID Law

April 29, 2008 09:30 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Matthew R. Bald
As Indiana prepares for its May 6 presidential primaries, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a state law requiring voters to present photo identification.

30-Second Summary

In what The Washington Post calls “the most sharply partisan case the court has considered since its ruling in Bush v. Gore,” the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Indiana’s voter identification law is not unconstitutional.

Proponents of the 2005 Republican-drafted legislation—Balkinization blog points out that “all of the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly supported the bill, while all of the Democrats opposed it”—say it prevents voter fraud.

The law’s critics argue that it disenfranchises voters who are least likely to have driver’s licenses or passports and traditionally vote Democrat, such as minorities, urbanites, the poor, the disabled and the elderly.

But the Democrats who challenged the law, Slate legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick told NPR, “just didn’t adduce enough proof.”

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board “was brought as a ‘facial’ challenge, which is a constitutional challenge that says under every set of facts this law is unconstitutional,” said Lithwick. “That is an extraordinarily high bar to meet.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the court’s decision “disappointing,” and the American Civil Liberties Union’s Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said the judgment “minimizes the very real burden that Indiana's voter ID law places on tens of thousands of eligible voters.”

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUS Blog agrees, writing that the ruling “may turn out to be a significant victory for Republicans at election time.”

Although the court’s decision will likely apply to states with similar voter ID requirements—more than 20 in all—Election Law Blog writes that it will also “encourage further litigation.”

Headline Links: Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

Background: Background on Indiana ID Law; similar cases; plurality opinions

Reactions: Speaker Pelosi and the ACLU

Opinion & Analysis: The ruling and its aftermath

Related Topics: ‘States Consider Resumption of Death Penalty After Supreme Court Decision’

Reference: Court opinion and the Supreme Court Web Guide


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