Tuesday, April 29, 2008

They got one right!

The Supreme Court has upheld an Indiana state law that requires voters to produce a government-issued photo ID to vote. Supporters say the law cuts down on election fraud. Opponents say it specifically targets the poor and the elderly in hopes of denying them their Constitutional rights. Here is what WEP says:

First, as a Federalist I support any state's right to regulate their elections process, as long as the laws don't target specific citizens or groups of citizens. This law does no such thing and so I support Indiana's right to pass it and enforce it. The argument that it targets the poor and the elderly is thin and weak. I can just as easily argue that a Wall Street executive who spends his day in the backseat of a limo is just as likely to not have a government issued photo ID. This poor and elderly thing doesn't stick with me. The ACLU says it could potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands and even though the law has been in effect for years they can't produce any of these people or prove the supposed bias. Again, Indiana has the Constitutional right to do this as long as it doesn't deliberately target a group of citizens. The SCOTUS felt there was no evidence of such a thing and therefore ruled appropriately. It's the court's job to interpret the law, not interject their personal views, as Justice Ginsburg has a reputation for doing.

The next argument is that the law makes voting more inconvenient for certain people. I say...so what? Voting is inconvenient for many people but that shouldn't stop us from doing our duty as citizens. The law requires that we register to vote and the law dictates what hours the polls are open. Based on the "inconvenient" argument I could easily say these things may disenfranchise some people. After all, if the polls close at 7PM the accompanying inconvenience could keep some people from voting. But that doesn't mean we should change the law. The right to vote is a right, but it is also a responsibility that should be taken seriously. If you can't get to the polls until after 7PM, then you have the responsibility to figure out another way. If you don't have a photo ID, then you have the responsibility to go get one. If you're not willing to put forth the effort to vote, then you obviously don't appreciate your rights and are probably better off not voting at all. Our rights come with great responsibility. Just my opinion.

Just because I have the right to own a gun doesn't mean I am allowed to be irresponsible with it. I have to register my gun, keep it properly stored, and not carry it in public without a proper license. This doesn't mean my Constitutional rights are being violated, it simply means there are rules that must be followed. The same goes for voting.

But, let's cut through the bull and get to the real issue here. In my mind, this law DOES discriminate against a particular group of people. Republicans will deny it. Democrats will deny it. SCOTUS will deny it. But common sense tells me this law is designed to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants and non-citizens to vote. This is a big voting bloc for the Dems, so they don't want any barriers between these people and the polls. If you're being honest, you know I am right here.

And that's just another reason for this law to stand. Not only is it Constitutional, but it also helps prevent illegals from interfering in our elections, and that is a good thing. Bravo to the SCOTUS. At last, common sense prevails and they get one right.


Anonymous said...


Stick to medicine. The SCOTUS decison, in the opinion of 3 of the justices, was based on the premise that there was no evidence of harm--that the harm was theoretical.

So let us take the case of citizen Joe Blow who does not drive and does not have his birth certificate.

The cost of obtaining his birth certificate is greater that the $1.50 poll tax the SCOTUS declared unconstitutional in a prior decision.

Had the opponents of the ID law been able to prove harm to a significant number of citizens, you would have seen a 6-3 decision declaring the law unconstitutional. Expect this issue to be brought again.




Stick to your guns. It's curious that Loop Garoo mentions the Minority (3) Justice that voted in Opposition,

Not The Six That Favored The Rule.

John Washburn said...

"Stick to medicine". It doesn't take a legal expert to understand the Constitution, even though some people may talk down to us lay-folks as though we aren't capable. Part of the beauty of that document is that it is simple and easily understood, even for those not of noble birth. I think the reason why so many people dislike the legal profession is because of their tendency to complicate things that aren't complicated. I may not be a legal expert but I can read and I have read the Constitution many times. THere is nothing in that document that says voting must be convenient for all citizens.

Loop, the reason why SCOTUS voted 6-3 in favor of this law is because there is nothing in the law that violates the Constitution. The ACLU claimed that it deliberatly targeted the poor and elderly, which would be unConstitutional, but failed to prove their case. All they have is hypothetical citizens that MAY be inconvenienced (not necessarily disenfranchised) by the law. That is not unConstitutional.

I go back to my example of the corporate executive who is neither poor nor elderly, yet is just as likely to be inconvenienced by the law. This alone is enough to blow away the ACLUs argument. THe ACLU has their hypothetical citizen, I have mine. And the very fact that we're discussing hypotheticals basically kills their argument, since a hypothetical can take just about any form, and thus does not represent a specific group that is being affected by the law. Again, it's common sense and not a complicated issue.

And your $1.50 argument is interesting. Are you really saying that this is an excessive amount for someone to pay to vote? If so, then please answer this hypothetical:

My car gets about 20mpg gas mileage. My polling place is 10 miles away, so the round-trip cost for me to vote is one gallon of gas, or basically 3-4 dollars...more than double what you consider excessive cost for voting. What do you propose should be done to protect my right to vote? It's a fair question, especially since my hypothetical is more likely than yours...that of someone who can't afford to pay a buck-fifty for a birth certificate. And I also noticed that you didn't adjust the old poll tax for inflation.

We could go on and on but the basic point is that common sense should prevail. This law does not specifically target any particular citizen or group of citizens. Therefore, it does not violate the Constitution and Indiana has the right to implement it, even if some may personally disagree with it. The SCOTUS did their job. They interpreted the law and reached the right decision without interjecting personal politics. Isn't that what the Supreme Court is supposed to do?

How concerning would it be if the SCOTUS made judgments based on hypothetical possibilities and not hard facts?

Anonymous said...

reb and Doc,

I will read the opinion but my understanding of it now is that 3 justices voted to uphold the law b/c they did think it was unconstitutional and 3 voted to uphold it b/c they was no adequate proof of harm. 3 dissented. That is how the vote became 6-3. Had the opponents of law shown that the law disenfranchised a significant # of voters, the decison would have 6-3 holding it unconstitutional.

Yes Doctor, the SCOTUS has previously determined that a poll tax of $1.50 was an unconstitutional contraint of a person's right to vote. If one has no photo ID in IN and the only way to obtain one is to pay $20.00 (I have no idea of the cost in IN but I suspect that it would be around $20.00), this would seem to be a contraint on a poor person's right to vote particularly inconsideration of the $1.50 poll tax decision. Therefore after the next election, if the opponents of this law can show a significant # of people were affected, expect that the case will be refiled.

You say you support a state's right to regulate th eelection process so long as specific individuals or groups are not targeted. Do you count the poor among a targeted group?

This is not a matter of convenience. This is the basic flaw in your reasoning so I need not address your hypotheticals.

Also, if you are going to take the position that illegal immigrants and non citizens from a large voting bloc for Democrats you had better cite some authority. Do you have any rtegrding the # of non citizens who vote and the party they favor?

Also, are you sure you are a Federalist?

As for stick to medicine, again you display your penchant for being a reactionary. You do not have to be an attorney to analyze a legal decision. But if your analysis is such as your was on this, then you subject yourself to criticism whatever your profession or employment.

Meanwhile, I worked in El Paso County, CO home inter alia of USAFA and Ft. Carson. To register to vote, I need a CO DL or a SSN or a Dept of Revenue ID #. But absent any of those, you could register to vote by providing other proof of citizenship at a polling place.


John Washburn said...

Loop, you base your argument on hypotheticals yet feel the need not to address mine. Typical.

No I don't consider the poor a "targeted" group because I have no idea what "poor" means. It is a relative term often loosely defined. Not the sort of thing to base law on.

And again, the unConstitutional $1.50 poll tax was not adjusted for inflation.

Anonymous said...


There is no point in addressing your hypotheticals b/c as you point out, they are based on "convenience." Convenience was never the issue in the IN case.

The issue was whether the requirement of of havoing a photo ID was an unconstitutional impediemnt to a poor person's right to vote. The plaintiff's position was that the cost of obtaining a photo ID was no different from the imposition of a poll tax. Justices Stevens, Roberts, and Kennedy ruled, in essence, that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that an actual harm existed. i.e. the suit had not been brought by a person who had been barred from voting. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito joined but went further stating the law should be upheld b/c the "law's overall burden was minimal and justified."

Justices Ginsberg, Souter, and Breyer dissented. J. Souter wrote an opinion in which J. Ginsberg joined statingthe law "threatens to impose non trivial burdens the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state's citizens."

I think your whole "convenience" analysis is irrelevant.

The challenge may well have been successful had the plaintiffs been voters who said: "I am on a fixed income and when the choice came to purchasing my prescription medication or paying for a copy of my birth certificate so I could obtain a photo ID, I chose my medication and therefore was unable to vote."


Anonymous said...

My hypothetical is bigger than yours...--Deano

Robert M. said...

I get the states' rights thing. But I have to err on the side of individual rights first. I can see how some form of ID might be necessary, but I don't think it needs to be government ID. Just prove it's you.


Yeah, those "individual rights" that are protected by the First Amendment are a bit suspect; so why
trust a government thingy, like a Driver's License or a Birth Certificate?

Give us vague "Libertarianism", or nothing at all! reb

Robert M. said...

Um... what?

And I'm vague?