ILNews

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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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