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UPDATE: Voter ID questions remain

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Hoosier voters should be ready to show their government-issued photo identification at the polls next week after the Supreme Court of the United States gave a green light to Indiana's voter ID law. Other states may follow suit following the high court's ruling Monday that upheld Indiana's three-year-old statute. But voters and the legal community should be just as ready for a new wave of Election Day regulation and subsequent litigation because six justices agreed to some extent that voters could be burdened by the law. The debate comes following a fractured 6-3 decision Monday in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, et al., No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party, et al. v. Todd Rokita, No. 07-25, a pair of consolidated cases. Opponents argued that the 2005 law would unfairly target people who might have trouble getting an ID, while the state contended it needed the right to impose the rules to prevent voter fraud. But the plurality opinion led to justices conceding that the law could impose some special burden on some voters, though the record doesn't have enough evidence to show what that burden is and that it's severe enough to overturn the state statute entirely. "They haven't completely slammed the courthouse door shut, but it's going to be problematic whether the right set of facts will come along to convince judges this (type of law) should be struck down 'as applied,'" said William Groth, an attorney who represented the Indiana Democratic Party. "It is hard to read Justice (John Paul) Stevens' majority opinion and come away with any clear guidelines." The decision came eight days before Hoosiers head to the polls for the May 6 primary, when a record turnout is expected. During a conference call with media Monday afternoon, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita called the ruling a "clear cut victory" for states wanting to impose voter ID rules. He said at least 25 states had called his office about the case since it was argued in early January, and now this ruling can serve as a roadmap for those jurisdictions wanting to initiate similar reforms. About 20 states already have some type of voter ID regulation. But debate is already rampant about the ultimate meaning of this decision and what comes next. Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said Monday that he was disappointed but also encouraged by the possibilities left open by the court. If the law does burden voters at the polls next week, that could lead to more ammunition for future litigation. Election law professor Richard Hasen at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who'd filed an amicus curiae brief in the cases, said the six justices who voted to uphold the law did so for different reasons and only three offered a strict interpretation of defending the law. That means uncertainty for lower courts on this issue, he said. Justice Stevens authored the majority's 21-page opinion, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy concurring; Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito concurred in result with a separate opinion, while Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer dissented, calling the Indiana statute unconstitutional.

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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