Brief for State Legislators with Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Support of Pennsylvania Voter ID Law
SEPTEMBER 06, 2012
Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief (Viviette Applewhite, et al. v. The Common Wealth of Pennsylvania, et al. (No. 71 Map 2012)) with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in support of Act 18, a Pennsylvania voter ID law which requires voters to produce a Pennsylvania driver’s license or another government-issued photo ID, such as a U.S. passport, military ID, or county/municipal employee ID when voting. Judicial Watch filed its brief on behalf of Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the driving force behind the legislation, and members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who supported the bill. The brief was filed on September 6, 2012, and the court will hear arguments on the matter on September 13, 2012.
According to Judicial Watch’s brief, filed jointly with Pennsylvania attorney L. Theodore Hoppe Jr., the Pennsylvania voter ID law is consistent with the Pennsylvania Constitution:
“[Our] position is simple and straightforward. While the Pennsylvania Constitution requires elections to be free and equal, it does not provide the framework for how to secure this…In passing Act 18, the General Assembly did no more than exercise its sound discretion and create a commonsense regulatory scheme to secure free and equal elections. The General Assembly undoubtedly had such authority and used it accordingly…
…In using its authority, [the General Assembly] has not caused anyone to be disenfranchised. Nor has it changed the qualifications set forth in the Pennsylvania Constitution. Rather it has maintained and promoted free and equal elections. For these reasons, the Commonwealth Court correctly concluded that Act 18 should not be preliminarily enjoined.
Act 18 (formerly HB 934) requires the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to provide valid identification at no cost. The law further allows an individual without identification to cast a “provisional” ballot that will be counted if the identity of the voter can be indisputably ascertained within six business days of the election. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation into law on March 14, 2012.
On August 15, 2012, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Act 18, prompting opponents of the election integrity measure to appeal the ruling to the state’s highest court: “At the end of the day…I do not have the luxury of deciding this issue based on my sympathy for the witnesses or my esteem for counsel,” said Judge Robert Simpson. “Rather, I must analyze the law, and apply it to the evidence of facial unconstitutionality brought forth in the courtroom, tested by our adversarial system.”
JW Attorney Michael Bekesha testified on March 21, 2011, before the State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, that the bill was a good way for Pennsylvania “to ensure fair elections for its citizens.” On July 17, 2012, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of Pennsylvania Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and 49 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who supported the bill. Nearly half of the members who supported the bill were signed on to the Judicial Watch’s initial amicus.