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District judge sends voter ID suit back

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

"Courts coordinate voter ID cases" IL Jan. 6-19, 2010

A federal judge ruled against a Cumberland man in his federal challenge to Indiana's voter identification law, but has remanded his pending state claims back to Marion Superior Court where the case initially started.

In the case of Robbin Stewart v. Marion County, et al., No. 1:08-CV-586, U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment April 16 for Marion County, Clerk Beth White, and the State of Indiana. The case challenged the state's voter ID law that's been upheld on one front by the Supreme Court of the United States and is currently pending on state issues before the Indiana Supreme Court. Stewart initially filed the case in state court in 2008, but it was removed to federal court. He argued the law violates the First, Fourth, 14th, and 24th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The judge ruled that Stewart's First and 14th amendment claims are fore- closed by the decisions that went to the SCOTUS in Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, 458 F. Supp.2d 775 (S.D. Ind. 2006), and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008). He also ruled that claims on the voter ID law being a poll tax should also fail because the 7th Circuit already noted that it's not a poll tax in Crawford. Stewart's Fourth Amendment challenge failed because those rights aren't affected, and there was no impact on his rights because he had a choice to not present his license in order to vote or fill out a provisional ballot.

"Even if requiring identification at the polls does constitute a search, it still does not violate the Fourth Amendment," Judge McKinney wrote. "... The State of Indiana has an important interest in preventing voter fraud. Asking every voter who appears at the polls for identification in a consistent manner is a lawful means of serving this interest."

The judge decided not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Stewart's pending claims under Indiana state law and remanded the case to Marion Superior Court for consideration. The remand comes after the Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments in March in League of Women Voters of Indiana, et al. v. Rokita,
No. 49S02-1001-CV-00050, which challenges the voter ID law on state claims and last year saw the Indiana Court of Appeals strike it down as unconstitutional.

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