I just watched Jim Lehrer and a report on the case concerning the Indiana voter ID law. According to the reporter (whose name I can't recall), Robertson, Alito, and Scalia displayed suspicion against the voting rights advocates; Ginsburg and Breyer display suspicion against the state.
Let me give you some background. Indiana's law requiring voters to present photo ID is supposed to help curb voter fraud. There are two problems with that theory:
- Illegal voter suppression and intimidation is much more prevalent than voter fraud, which primarily concerns people voting who shouldn't be.
- There's very little evidence of voter fraud.
Even Scalia had to admit there seemed to be little benefit from the law. He also questioned how much burden the law places on people, which I attribute to his conservative, privileged white male perspective. He wondered how the court could make a decision. I think the answer is easy - find in favor of the people's right to vote.
With this law, a voter would either have to present a driver's licenses or go through the hassle of obtaining a state ID card. The hassle would include, for example, having to pay for a birth certificate to present in order to get the ID. That'll be harder for some than others, but it'll cost anyone. On the face of it, it sounds like 21 century poll taxes, reading tests, etc or, rather, simply James Crow, Jr, Esquire.
If a voter doesn't have ID at the time of the vote, they can vote by provisional ballot which would only be counted if they arrived at the county courthouse in the county seat to either show an ID or sign an affidavit saying they're too poor to afford a state photo ID. It could be just me, but if I'm too poor to afford a state photo ID, I may also have trouble getting to the county seat.
Voting rights advocates believe the law will place undo burden on the poor, who'll be disproportionately minorities, and elderly. Both of who usually skew towards the political left. The state wants to prevent fraud, which isn't happening. And back to the point of this post, the Court's conservatives are doubting the voting rights advocates and the liberals, or in the case, the reasonable justices, doubt the state.
Voter ID laws (20 states have a form of one) arose in response to presidential election of 2000. That makes Indiana's law and any law like it a joke! The problem with the 2000 election, Florida and Tennessee admit, is that people were illegal prevented from voting. The problem had nothing to do with dead people voting, or Illinois voters voting in Michigan.
Yeah, I'm biased. I think the law is a fraud. Yeah, I'm siding with the liberals. But I think it's ridiculous that the justices are so partisan. This case, indeed Indiana's law, has more to do with partisanship than actual law. Especially considering the facts as I earlier laid out, it would seem Indiana should be making sure all eligible voters can vote; the state has nothing to gain by having this law on the books. The only entity that stands to gain is the state's Republican party. It's just plain mess that the Supreme Court could display such differences in what's obviously a partisan law in the first place. Either the law is Constitutional or it's not; it either protects rights and withholds rights. Even honest conservatives will admit that voter ID laws are unnecessary. The point is to keep Democratic leaning voters from being heard. And the Supreme Court is divided? And this is the Supreme Court of the vaunted United States of America? This is what we're allegedly trying to spread around the world? Give me a break!
And to make matters worse, the Bush administration is arguing on behalf of voter ID laws at the same time it admits that voter fraud is a myth. The administration's argument is that since so many people may not vote because they think that their vote won't matter due to voter fraud, in order to build voter confidence, there should be laws to prevent voter fraud. The argument is specious on its face. But then to add to the sheer putridness of the administration, it has been the administration and other conservative partisan groups who spread the falsities of voter fraud, which the claim will place doubt in the minds of legal voters, in the first place.
Now, I could be over-reacting. The cases hasn't been decided; the report I heard was about oral arguments. I hope it's properly decided. I really do. But the divide on the Court isn't just ideological; it's partisan. It's sickening. It's embarrassing.
If the rights of people to vote, to receive equal pay, not to experience harassment on the job, etc, etc, etc is to be protected, a Democrat president has to be elected. The Democrats have to fight on behalf of the people who are least able to fight on behalf of themselves.