Judicial Watch • Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional

SEPTEMBER 21, 2009

An Indiana voter identification law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year has been overturned by a state court that claims the measure is unconstitutional because it’s not “uniform and impartial."

Passed by the Indiana Legislature in 2005 to prevent voter fraud, the law requires citizens to provide government-issued photo identification at the polls. More than 20 states have passed similar measures to prevent fraud and many have been legally challenged by Democrats and civil rights groups that claim requiring ID to vote deters the poor, elderly and minorities from casting ballots. 

Arguing that it disenfranchises minorities and the poor, Democrats fought Indiana’s law in federal court and lost. In a 6-3 decision (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board) last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state’s photo ID requirement “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process” and that it could not “conclude that the statute imposes excessively burdensome requirements on any class of voters.”

A liberal group then challenged the law in state court and a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals handed it a victory, ruling that requiring photo ID to vote violates the state’s constitution and must be immediately void. The panel’s unanimous decision claims the “Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause” of Indiana’s constitution are violated because mail-in absentee voters are not required to produce photo ID.  

Calling the decision a “transparently” partisan act of “judicial arrogance,” Indiana’s Republican governor will appeal to the state Supreme Court which he is confident will overturn it. Even if he’s right, the Obama Administration may step in anyways and block the ID law the way it did in Georgia a few months ago.

Claiming that it has a “discriminatory effect” on minorities, the Justice Department prevented Georgia from implementing its voter ID law earlier this year even though it was passed by the legislature and approved by federal courts. In killing the measure, Obama’s Justice Department said it puts an undue burden on blacks, Hispanics and Asians to prove their citizenship when trying to vote.

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