Indiana passed a stringent voter identification law that makes it very difficult for anyone who doesn’t have a driver’s license to register to vote. People generally who are too poor to own a car, the elderly or who are disabled are all in the group that would suffer undue discrimination under this law. There is no evidence of any massive wave of “voter fraud” that would justify such a discriminatory measure. See this ( Caution: link opens a .pdf file) document written by The Brennan Center for Justice (as part of its amicus brief to the Supreme Court) which documents in 75 pages the incredible lack of evidence for the so-called “voter fraud” alleged by the State of Indiana to justify its Voter ID legislation. Indeed, The Brennan Center could find no substantiation for any of the alleged claims made by the State of Indiana and the Bush Justice Department which are asserted to justify the need for such a stringent voting requirement.
Nonetheless such laws would do a wonderful job at suppressing voter turnout among groups traditionally favorable to Democrats. Which is why Republicans love them, and why we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of these discriminatory laws if Justice Roberts and Friends have anything to say about it:
A lawyer representing Democrats seeking to overturn Indiana’s voter identification law faced tough questioning from Supreme Court justices this morning, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. leading the skepticism that a requirement to display photo identification is an unconstitutional burden on voters.
Washington lawyer Paul M. Smith said the law passed by Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2005 hinders the exercise of “our most fundamental right” and is especially difficult for people who do not have driver’s licenses–mainly low-income residents without cars, urban dwellers and elderly people who no longer drive. […]
The state of Indiana said the law, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID with an expiration date, was approved to prevent fraud by impersonators.
Smith noted that the state has never prosecuted such a fraud case, but Roberts said that is because “it is a type of fraud that’s hard to detect.”
Roberts seemed more interested in a lower court’s finding that those challenging the law had not found “a single person” who had tried to vote but was turned away because of the law.
Neither Roberts nor Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to find Indiana’s requirements particularly burdensome. Roberts pointed out that the state will issue photo IDs for those without driver’s licenses and that accommodations are made so that voters without identification can cast provisional ballots.
But other justices, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appeared concerned that the restrictions could make voting more difficult for some groups, especially the indigent. “If you really want people to vote, why” enact a law with such restrictions?, Ginsburg asked.
The case has an unmistakable partisan cast: States that have passed laws requiring photo IDs have Republican-led legislatures and Democrats usually are united against them. The case is arguably the most important to the two political parties since the high court’s 5-4 split in Bush v. Gore, which decided the 2000 election.
Looks like it will all come down to the swinger on the Roberts’ Court, Justice Kennedy. Sometimes he stands up for our constitutional rights, and sometimes he doesn’t. My guess here is that this time he will side with his good Republican buddies on the Court to uphold this law, and as a result we’ll see a rash of hastily approved “Voter Fraud Prevention Acts” which require a government issued photo ID in order to obtain permission to cast your vote in every state whose legislature is controlled by Republicans. Just in time for November, too.