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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues