Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fisking the wall street/ opinion journal:
The Don't Show Me State
The liberal assault on voter ID laws.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

People in the good state of Missouri need photo identification to cash a check, board a plane or apply for food stamps. But the state Supreme Court has ruled that a photo ID requirement to vote is too great a burden on the elderly and the poor. Go figure.

I don't need photo ID to cash a check in Missouri. I walk into my bank in Hannibal, say hello to the Vice-President, Tom Chapman, go to the teller and conduct my transaction. I don't need photo ID to board a plane at the St Louis airport, as my brother's friend John Gilmore proved in Gilmore v FAA. I have no constitutional right to food vouchers. I have a garden. The Missouri Supreme Court, which I once served as an intern, followed existing Supreme Court precedent that the denial of the vote is a severe burden, and a poll tax is unconstitutional, whether for the young, the rich, or anybody.

Public polls consistently show that an overwhelming majority of Americans--regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status--favor voter ID laws. And nearly half of the nation's states have passed them. I've seen those polls. They are the type where the outcome is predetermined by the way the questions are phrased. No poll has asked, "Do you favor imposing an unconstitutional poll tax?"

Yet a string of recent court decisions has blocked their implementation in some places, thus siding with Democrats and liberal special interest groups who would rather turn a blind eye to voter fraud.

I do not turn a blind eye to voter fraud. I have litigated several cases of voter fraud by election officials. I intend to file, shortly, such a lawsuit in Indiana, where voter licensing violates the state constitution.

A Georgia judge ruled a voter ID law unconstitutional in September. Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of a similar law in Arizona, only to be unanimously reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. (While the Supremes didn't decide on the merits, their willingness to let the ID requirement be enforced in next month's election suggests some encouraging deference to state officials who want to protect the integrity of the ballot.) Also this month, a Seventh Circuit appeals panel heard arguments in a case concerning Indiana's voter ID requirements. And the Michigan Supreme Court will consider a voter ID challenge in November.

Yikes, what is the Michigan case? (Scurries over to Moritz to check.) More shortly.

Groups challenge voter ID plan
Saturday, July 15, 2006
NAACP, Arab rights group among those calling photo proposal 'harassment' of voters.
David Josar / The Detroit News
The Detroit NAACP and several other groups have filed legal briefs with the Michigan Supreme Court urging the justices to not require people to present photo identification in order to vote next month.

"The harassment of voters is on the rise in this state," Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony said Friday in announcing the lawsuit. "This photo identification law would add to that climate of intimidation and signal that it is open season on harassing voters at the polls."
Joining in the legal action were the ACLU of Michigan, Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, the League of Women Voters and Project Vote.
In April the court said it would issue an advisory opinion on whether the law's photo ID provisions are constitutional, and invited arguments from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and the two major political parties.
Then-Gov. John Engler approved the law in 1996, but it never went into effect after then-Attorney General Frank J. Kelley said it was unconstitutional.
The state Supreme Court gave Cox and the other parties until midsummer to submit arguments....
Currently, no identification is needed when going to the polls, but voters must sign a ballot application and provide their address and birth date.
According to the Secretary of State, about 370,000 Michigan voters don't have a driver's license or state-issued identification.
Anthony and others on Friday said the cost of getting a state identification card, which could range from $9 to $25, was a significant burden on some voters.
Detroit Branch NAACP General Counsel Melvin "Butch" Hollowell said that "requiring photo identification at the polls is a solution in search of an imaginary problem.
"There is no evidence of voter fraud in this state," Hollowell said.
You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or djosar detnews com

Somehow I've missed this case.
What the Michigan Attorney General had to say:

The United States Supreme Court has consistently recognized that in our democracy the right to vote is our most precious right. Wesberry v Sanders, 376 US 1, 17; 84 S Ct 526; 11 L Ed 2d 481 (1964). It is a fundamental right because it helps preserve all other rights. Reynolds v Sims, 377 US 533, 562; 84 S Ct 1362; 12 L Ed 2d 506 (1964).

In Dunn v Blumstein, 405 US 330, 336; 92 S Ct 995; 31 L Ed 2d 274 (1972), the Court recognized that any restriction on the right to vote is subject to close constitutional scrutiny:

In decision after decision, this Court has made clear that a citizen has a constitutionally protected right to participate in elections on an equal basis with other citizens in the jurisdiction. This "equal right to vote," is not absolute; the States have the power to impose voter qualifications, and to regulate access to the franchise in other ways. But, as a general matter, "before that right [to vote] can be restricted, the purpose of the restriction and the assertedly overriding interests served by it must meet close constitutional scrutiny."

Four generations of my family have lived and voted in Missouri. I currently live in Indiana. The burden is on the states to justify that their severe burden on voting rights is narrowly tailored. They'll have to show me.

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