ILNews

AG urges court not to review voter ID law

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The nearing 2008 presidential election is a key reason why the Supreme Court of the United States should not accept a challenge to Indiana's two-year-old voter identification law, the Indiana Attorney General's Office argues in a brief filed with the nation's highest court.

Even while recognizing that the constitutionality of voter identification laws is a significant question that may eventually need review, the 29-page brief filed this week urges the court to deny a petition for certiorari.

This reply follows the July petition by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana asking justices to consider whether the state's law mandating in-person voters to produce a photo identification violates the First or 14th Amendments. In April, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined a rehearing en banc of the case Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, et al., No 06-2218, which challenged the law that took effect in July 2005. The 7th Circuit had previously affirmed a district judge's ruling that the law wasn't unconstitutional. Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, sued Secretary of State Todd Rokita and the Marion County Election Board, and the ACLU-Indiana had sued on behalf of those who could be impacted by the law, possibly to the extent of not voting.

The ACLU of Indiana points to the nearing 2008 presidential election and unresolved questions as reason to take this case, while the state contends the opposite and attempts to poke holes in the plaintiffs' overall case.

"Unless there is something inherently cert-worthy about all lower court decisions that uphold new voting regulations, there is nothing about this case that justifies this Court's review," the brief states. "No appellate court - state or federal - has ruled that voter identification laws of any sort violate the United States Constitution."

But even if that constitutionality question "were to be of interest generally to this Court," the brief argues this case isn't the right vehicle to address that. Furthermore, granting review now could "prompt a raft of last-minute voter identification challenges that would disrupt presidential primaries."

The AG's brief suggests the court wait until after the next general election to address this issue, as it would then be able to use election information as evidence on how the law's work.

"If voter identification laws are proliferating nationally, the Court should have far better opportunities for reviewing such laws after the 2008 elections when granting review will not precipitate emergency, election-eve challenges, and when an actual record of enforcement experience can inform the Court's decision."
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