ILNews

D.C. attorney argues voter I.D. case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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One of the most vocal civil liberties advocates battling Indiana's voter identification law won't make his pitch to the Supreme Court of the United States this week.

When the nation's highest court hears the much-anticipated arguments Wednesday morning, Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher will argue for the state attorney general's office. But Ken Falk, who heads the legal department of American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, won't face the justices, nor will Indianapolis attorney William Groth, who represents the plaintiff, the Indiana Democratic Party.

Both have turned the spot over to Paul M. Smith, a partner at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C., who's argued before the high court a dozen times.

"I lost the coin toss," Falk said, who's argued before the court twice. "But I'll be there watching."

The court's nine justices will take up a pair of Indiana cases at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The combined cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, No. 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, No. 07-25, which challenge the state's nearly three-year-old voter photo ID law that has been upheld by both U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The cases are the first arguments scheduled that morning and are expected to last about an hour.

In the days preceding the arguments, multiple parties and organizations are holding news conferences and speaking out about the controversial and highly publicized issue, which takes center stage in a presidential election year. About 40 amicus briefs have been filed for both sides, with 23 filed for the petitioners against the law and 16 supporting the respondents in favor of the state. One brief from a law professor and dean is neutral.

The Supreme Court's arguments are not televised or broadcast live, but coverage can be found online at the Indiana Lawyer Web site, as well as in the Indiana Lawyer Daily and print editions of the newspaper.
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