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Plaintiff loses federal challenges to voter ID law

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A federal judge ruled against a Cumberland man in his federal challenge to Indiana's voter identification law, but did remand his pending state claims to a Marion Superior Court for consideration.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney in the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment April 16 for Marion County, Marion County Clerk Beth White, and the State of Indiana in Robbin Stewart's lawsuit challenging Indiana's statutory requirement that a person voting at the polls has to present a government-issued photo ID. Stewart has an acceptable form of identification but believes having to present it violates his rights.

Stewart argued in Robbin Stewart v. Marion County, et al., No. 1:08-CV-586, that the voter ID law violates the First, Fourth, 14th and 24th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. His challenges based on the First and 14th amendments are foreclosed by 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). His challenge that the voter ID law is a poll tax also failed because the 7th Circuit already noted that it's not a poll tax in Crawford.

"Stewart already has a driver's license, which is a valid form of photo identification. Therefore, he has not been required to incur any extra costs to obtain a valid photo identification to present when voting and does not have standing to challenge any alleged fees which might be incurred by a person not similarly equipped with photo identification," wrote Judge McKinney.

Stewart's Fourth Amendment challenge failed because those rights aren't affected. Stewart had a choice when voting in person - present his driver's license and vote, or refuse to present it and choose to cast or not cast a provisional ballot. The encounter was consensual and had no impact on his rights, wrote the judge.

"Even if requiring identification at the polls does constitute a search, it still does not violate the Fourth Amendment," wrote Judge McKinney. "... 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 federal 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. Last year, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the voter ID law violates Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution in League of Women Voters of Indiana, et al. v. Rokita, 915 N.E.2d 151 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). The case is currently pending before the Indiana Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case March 4.

Stewart, an attorney, was suspended in May 2009 for not fulfilling CLE requirements.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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