Voter ID

  • October 21, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Derek Willis reports in The New York Times on the new ACS-sponsored study that shows that increased spending in judicial elections after Citizens United is leading to a system of skewed justice.

    At BuzzfeedChris Geidner reports on the efforts of progressives to find a replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder. ACS President Caroline Fredrickson provides her insight in the article. 

    NPR’s Nina Totenberg sat down with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Israeli Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch at 92nd Street Y to discuss the role of the Supreme Court in a democracy.

    In The Nation, Ari Berman looks at the Supreme Court’s decision on the Texas voter ID law.

    Leslie Griffin discusses in Hamilton and Griffin on Rights the major problems with the Texas voter ID law and how it places a burden on minority voters in the state.

    Richard Re considers at Re’s Judicata how Justices should time their retirements and to what degree they should consider expected replacements when deciding.  

  • October 10, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    Yesterday saw two rare victories for voting rights in states where conservative lawmakers and governors with presidential aspirations are catering to the fringe rightwing. The Supreme Court stopped officials in Wisconsin from requiring voters there to provide photo identification before casting their ballots in the coming election. While three justices dissented, voters were handed a 6-to-3 victory, not the 5-to-4 loss one might expect. Meanwhile in Texas, Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos concluded a two-week trial in Corpus Christi by finding the state’s voter ID law “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”

    In Wisconsin the voter ID law is one of the strictest in the nation and was clearly drafted and passed with the intention of making it more difficult for minority voters, particularly in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison, as well as elderly and younger voters to cast their ballots. As The New York Times reports, since it was passed in 2011 and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker, it has been mostly blocked by various. A federal trial judge had blocked it, saying it would “deter or prevent a substantial number of the 300,000-plus registered voters who lack ID from voting” and would disproportionately affect black and Hispanic voters.

    The law was provisionally reinstated last month by a unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Chicago. With the election looming, the law’s challengers quickly asked the Supreme Court to block it, knowing it would be nearly impossible to educate voters who lack a photo ID on the process to obtain an ID, and allow time for them to take time off work and wait in a long line at the DMV.

  • October 6, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    In The New York Times, Adam Liptak looks at the Supreme Court’s decision to deny petitions in all seven cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage.

    The New York Times also previews the new Supreme Court term and argues that the new session could define the legacy of Chief Justice John Roberts. The article quotes William P. Marshall from the ACS Supreme Court Preview.

    In The McClatchy-Tribune, Michael Doyle provides an overview of the Supreme Court’s term that begins today. ACS President Caroline Fredrickson offers her perspective in the article.

    In The Atlantic, Garrett Epps discusses Heien v. North Carolina and whether the justices will support a “Barney Fife Loophole” to the Fourth Amendment.

    Jenee Desmond-Harris writes for Vox about an upcoming Supreme Court case that might make proving housing discrimination more difficult.

     In the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice, Michael Li explains why the Arkansas Supreme Court should find the state’s voter ID law unconstitutional. 

  • August 1, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Joshua A. DouglasRobert G. Lawson & William H. Fortune Associate Professor of Law, University of Kentucky College of Law

    *This post was originally published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday issued two decisions that had the effect of upholding the state's strict voter ID requirement. Crucial to the court's decisions was its finding that, once it modified a different rule, the voter ID law did not impose too substantial of a burden on qualified voters who do not otherwise have the necessary identification.

    The split decisions entail both breathtaking judicial activism and ignorance regarding the difference between the federal and state constitutions.

    First, the conservative-leaning majority found that the voter ID law imposed a severe burden on voters because it would cost money for voters to gather the underlying documentation they might need — such as a birth certificate — to obtain the "free" voter ID. But the majority then forges ahead to adopt a "saving construction" of a state administrative rule to conclude that the law does not, really, require voters to pay money to obtain the documentation. It rewrites the administrative rule so that the voter ID law does not become an unconstitutional poll tax.

    To justify this maneuver, the court cites a U.S. Supreme Court decision that states "where a saving construction is 'fairly possible,' the court will adopt it." But that U.S. Supreme Court case said no such thing; it instead noted that if a saving construction of the very statute at issue is possible, then the court should avoid the constitutional question and decide the case under that statutory ground.

    Here, by contrast, there was no "fairly possible" construction of the voter ID law. Instead, the court requires state administrators to invoke their "discretion" under a separate administrative regulation — one that was not at issue in the case — to give voter IDs to voters who must pay money to obtain the underlying documentation.

    Second, the court conflated the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions to uphold the law. The plaintiffs challenged the law under the Wisconsin constitution provision that provides, "Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district." The plaintiff's argument, in essence, was that the burdens associated with obtaining the required voter ID took away the constitutionally granted right to vote for some citizens.

  • December 12, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    In a robust defense of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blasted the claim that the law’s integral enforcement provision is outdated and said it was time the nation updated the way voters are registered.

    Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Holder said, “President Kennedy recognized that no force in our history has been more powerful than the continued expansion of what’s been called the lifeblood of our representative democracy, the cornerstone of our system of government, and the ‘most basic’ right of American citizenship: the right to vote.”

    That basic right has been under attack on several fronts. First Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act continues to be challenged as unconstitutional by some lawmakers in the South who argue that discrimination against minorities is a thing of the past and therefore they should not be required to get federal preclearance for changes to their voting procedures. The Supreme Court will review a challenge to Sec. 5 brought by Shelby County, Ala. officials who are seeking the demise of Sec. 5.

    Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act, has, Holder noted, enjoyed “broad, bipartisan support – including, most recently, in 2006, when an overwhelming congressional majority joined with President Bush to reauthorize its protections. It’s also been upheld as constitution in each of the eight court challenges that the law’s opponents filed between 1965 and 2010 – during the first 45 years after it took effect. Over the last two years alone, however, we’ve seen at least 10 lawsuits – more than in the first four decades of the statute’s existence – arguing that Section 5 is no longer constitutional, and that our nation has moved far beyond the challenges that prompted both its passage and its recent renewal.”