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Judge declines to interfere with voter ID law

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A federal judge in Indianapolis won't interfere with the state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the election polls.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney denied a temporary injunction request from a Cumberland attorney and resident who is challenging Indiana's 3-year-old voter ID law that's been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Plaintiff Robbin G. Stewart filed the suit in April in Marion County, though it was later removed to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, to resolve the multiple federal and state constitutional claims. In September, Stewart asked the judge for one of three potential relief options: that he be allowed to vote without showing the required photo ID; that the state and county be required to count all provisional ballots cast by those not showing photo ID; or that the state not be allowed to enforce the voter ID law during the Nov. 4 general election.

Judge McKinney heard arguments Oct. 14 in Robbin Stewart v. Marion County, et al., No. 1:08-cv-586-LJM-TAB, and took the matter under advisement.

In his 10-page ruling, Judge McKinney rejected each of Stewart's arguments and found that he didn't represent a class of any similarly situated Hoosier voters and that he didn't adequately show any hardship in obtaining a photo ID. The court referenced how Stewart himself had obtained a valid license, and that meant he can vote and wouldn't suffer any irreparable injury by this injunction denial.

Turning to the landmark ruling issued earlier this year in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S.Ct. 1610 (2008), Judge McKinney noted the reasoning in that facial challenge case applies to Stewart, even though he'd asserted this as an as-applied challenge that survives the Crawford scrutiny.

"Plaintiff has not designated any evidence to demonstrate a burden that, on balance, outweighs the State's interest in protecting against voter fraud," the judge wrote.

Judge McKinney also rejected Stewart's federal constitutional claims that the state law violates the First and 21st Amendments, finding that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago had explicitly held in Crawford that the law isn't a poll tax and that all courts had decided it didn't violate the First Amendment.

On a claim that the law violates the Fourth Amendment on search and seizures, the judge pointed out that Stewart did not cite a single case holding that poll workers must have probable cause before requiring voters to produce a valid photographic ID, and as a result he didn't show he could win on that claim.

The judge also rejected Stewart's state constitutional claims, finding that he didn't cite adequate legal authority and has not demonstrated any likelihood of success on the merits.

"I'm disappointed but not shocked," Stewart said about the judge's ruling. "The case is still alive; it's not like he dismissed it or anything. The next step is to take this to the 7th Circuit for some preliminary relief."

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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