Thursday, January 04, 2007

7th Circuit Panel Upholds Indiana's Voter ID Law

In a 2-1 decision, a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's Voter ID law. Judge Richard Posner, writing for the majority, conceded the law "will deter some people from voting", but he balanced that against his conclusion that "a great many people who are eligible to vote don't bother to do so" because "the benefits of voting to the individual voter are elusive" and "even very slight costs in time or bother or out-of-pocket expense deter many people from voting." Posner also matter-of-factly observed that "most people who don't have photo ID are low on the economic ladder and thus, if they do vote, are more likely to vote for Democratic than Republican candidates."

While Posner conceded the plaintiffs in the case had standing to sue, he was moved to comment on the fact that none of them were deterred from voting because of the photo ID requirement, and that impacted the merits of their case in his judgment. He bluntly said of the plaintiffs, "No doubt there are at least a few such people in Indiana, but the inability of the sponsors of this litigation to find any such person to join as a plaintiff suggests that the motivation for the suit is simply that the law may require the Democratic Party and the other organizational plaintiffs to work harder to get every last one of their supporters to the polls." That's harsh.

Posner rejected the strict scrutiny analysis urged by the plaintiffs. A strict standard is inappropriate in this case because "the right to vote is on both sides of the ledger." "The purpose of the Indiana law is to reduce voting fraud, and voting fraud impairs the right of legitimate voters to vote by diluting their votes—dilution being recognized to be an impairment of the right to vote," Posner explains. On the other side of the case is the effect of requiring a photo ID. "That effect, so far as the record reveals, is slight," Posner concluded. He continued, "To deem ordinary and widespread burdens like these severe would subject virtually every electoral regulation to strict scrutiny, hamper the ability of States to run efficient and equitable elections, and compel federal courts to rewrite state electoral codes . . . The Constitution does not require that result . . . " While conceding "the Indiana law can be improved", Posner asked, "[W]hat can't be?"

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Terence Evans sharply disagreed with Posner. "Let’s not beat around the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic," Evans wrote. "We should subject this law to strict scrutiny." Evans laments that voter participation in elections has been sliding for many years. "With that being the case, one would think states should be looking for creative ways (like allowing people to vote at places they frequent and are familiar with, like shopping malls rather than basements of fire stations) to increase voter participation, he wrote. "Yet, the Indiana law we sanction today does just the opposite. Constricting the franchise in a democratic society, when efforts should be instead undertaken to expand it, is not the way to go."

Judge Posner, a Reagan appointee to the bench, was joined in his opinion by Judge Diane Sykes, who was appointed by President G.W. Bush. Judge Evans was appointed to the bench by President Clinton. It's unfortunate that these political cases so often are decided along the party-line affiliation of the judges. The plaintiffs could still ask for review of the decision by the full court, which I suspect they will do. Hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog for catching this decision.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Court of Appeals was right, as was Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who had the misfortune of listening to the lies, deception & perjury of the Democrats. She wrote an excellent opinion.

This litigation was the result of a partisan legislative disagreement that has spilled out of the state house into the courts. Plaintiffs became
engaged in this dispute while it was still being debated by the Indiana General Assembly and, in moving to this judicial forum, in many respects they have failed to adapt their arguments to the legal arena. Plaintiffs, for example, have not introduced evidence of a
single, individual Indiana resident who will be unable to vote or who will have his or her right to vote unduly burdened by its requirements. Plaintiffs also have repeatedly advanced novel, sweeping political arguments which, if adopted, would require the invalidation, of other significant portions of
Indiana’s election code which have previously passed constitutional muster and/or to which Plaintiffs do not actually object; indeed, they offer them as preferable alternatives to the new Voter ID Law.

In so doing, Plaintiffs’ case is based on the implied assumption
that the Court should give these Constitutional and statutory provisions an expansive review based on little more than their own personal and political preferences.

Constance Andrews is an employee of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles who
frequently works at the polls on election day as a Judge for the Democratic Party. Andrews Dep. at 7, 13. Although Ms. Andrews declared in response to the Democrats’postcard survey that she did not have a driver’s license or any other government-issued
photo identification, at her deposition she testified that she did indeed have a valid
driver’s license.

Representative William Crawford (“Rep. Crawford”) is a member of the Indiana
House of Representatives, representing House District 98. Rep. Crawford possesses the photo identification required by the Voter
ID Law. Rep. Crawford states that he has been told by "a number of persons that they do
not have the required identification to be able to vote", Crawford however,
he has not identified any such persons by name to the Court.

The Democrats wasted quite a bit of the district court's time as well as that of the Court of Appeals. The Democrats are liars and they want to allow voter fraud, because they are the beneficiaries.

arnie said...

Where is Crawfords unidentified persons? HELL, WHERE IS THE VOTER FRAUD? I.D. law is what it is. Keeping people from voting. Plain and simple. Get it?

Anonymous said...

"It's unfortunate that these political cases so often are decided along the party-line affiliation of the judges."

Thank you!

I learned back in POLS 100 that Republicans tend to prefer more restrictions on the right to vote because it helps them win elections, and Democrats prefer to loosen the rules because it helps them win elections.

Some dude in the documentary about the Marion county presidential election said the same thing toward the beginning.

It's just nice for once to see someone actually pointing that out. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Judge Posner is not known for his, uh, clear thinking.

The case will likely get the same result from the full court, should they be asked to hear it.

Is this subject to certiori, AI? Or is that a lost cause because of the poorly-prepared plaintiffs' suit?

This law was overkill from day one. Insect hunting with a cannon. There is, and never was, voter fraud of any proportion in this state.

But Rokita sure sounded good when he abhored the fraud, didn't he? The pandering fool.

Thanks for the post. (This is one more reason you should not give up the blog...) I would've thought it'd be 2-1 given the oral arguments...I listened to some online, and Posner was barely civil. What a complete ass.

Anonymous said...

Any federal judge who uses the term "what the hell" in a judicial opinion should be impeached. He should be sent a copy of the Judicial Canons, he appears to have forgotten the part about decorum.

I'm sorry but Barker's opinion and Posner's opinion both expose them for what they are: political hacks who wear black robes. Wonder why neither of them have been up for promotions up the chain? Read these opinions (all 127 pages of Barker's opinion) and please point out legal reasoning that either one of them use. Instead, Barker relied on cute little phrases (like the "kleenex on a dorm room wall" phrase) and Posner felt the need to one-up her.

Anonymous said...

Judge Barker's comment about the Democrat's attempt to make their case stick as likely as a college student throwing a piece of wet tissue against the dorm wall was the best analogy I can think of. The Dems were wasting the court's time filing a frivilous suit, based on the perjury of their party loyalists....it had NO merit!

Anonymous said...

The Democrat Party has benefited from voter fraud more than you know. Especially in Primary Elections when challengers opposed their slated incumbents. The reasons it is perceived and promoted that no voter fraud exist, many of the challengers did not have the funds to pay attorney's fees for recounts and election contests in a court of law. The Party has looked the other way when complaints were filed with them.

I find it ironic that Rep. Bill Crawford would be a plaintiff in the suit period, other than to draw uninformed citizens to their cause. The Democrats have failed in the past to recognize the acts of voters voting in precincts where they did not live even when they were made aware of the individuals. The Party was silent on these issues because challengers identified the fraud. It was alledged to be an "honest mistake" or "sore grapes." When in reality it was the truth.

One example; in the race for Marion County Prosecutor's 1990 race where Jeff Modisett was elected in a recount by 750 votes.
Many Center Township precincts had 3 to 10 votes on the voting machines more than signatures on the poll books. The Democrat County chairman phoned ward chairmen and told them to have the precinct commmitteemen whose precincts were identified in the recount to claim ignorance if they were called to explain the difference. No one seemed to care then if those votes were cast legally, and there have been other races.

I agree with the statement in the decision. One illegal voter cancels out one legal voter. How can any concerned citizen who does elect to participate in the election process choose to ignore this fact.

If one illegal voter votes in 100 precincts, that equals a 100 vote margin for the winner in a tight district race. We have recently witnessed the election of several candidates to win their respective offices by less than a 10 vote margin. Consider the total number of precincts per district race for legislative offices in the state. The media ususally focuses on a large majority win for candidates,
when in reality every vote does count in highly contested races.

Based on the comments so far, candidates who have lost elections by narrow margins realize the importance of protecting the right to vote with voter IDs for citizens who do exercise their right to legally cast a vote.

Wilson46201 said...

With the Republicans controlling the Prosecutor's Office for many years, one would have thought that massive voter ID election fraud skullduggery by the Democratic Party would have been investigated, prosecuted and convicted many times but that never happened. There's a lot more apocrypha going around than solid documentation and legal action.


"Election fraud" is a convenient balm to soothe the egos of losing politicos - it's also a cheap charge to hurl at a victorious party. The racists always conjure up images of buses full of homeless African-Americans hurtling from poll to poll while hurling empty pints of whiskey out the windows. Ghostly specters arise from Crown Hill to vote straight Democratic but these fantasms exist only in the fevered minds of GOP loyalists. Some perennial candidates perennially invoke election fraud to explain their perennial abysmal results at the polls...

Anonymous said...

Wilson, I worked the polls in Center Twp....I saw what goes on. Voter ID was the BEST thing ever to happen, and it was LONG OVERDUE!

Why would any legitimate voter have a problem proving he is the person he says he is?

Anonymous said...

For the record, the average citizen would not know how to cheat in an election without the assistance of an experienced politician. This law will govern the conduct of elections for the entire state, not only Marion County. Once again, a citizen is allowed to seek public office as as long as they meet the eligibilty requirements. The Democrat Party attempts to disenfranchise more people than other politcal Party with intimidation and controlled slating conventions, fact.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lord, 3:50 and 9:05, if only you knew whereof you speak...

I was closely involved in the Modisett race in 1990. None of the urban myth you've described took place. The chairman at the time did not make those calls.

Can we please stick to facts regarding alleged voter fraud? Every time this dead horse is brought up, some folks drag out the dead horse of urban myths to support their argument.

Except for a few isolated cases that were prosecuted in southern Indiana and in Lake COunty, there was no voter fraud.

What you may "think" was voter fraud was most likely ignorant inspectors, who were being schooled on Indiana law by admittedly-zealous candidates or their charges. Nothing wrong with that. Obnoxious maybe, but not illegal.

This law was and is overkill. The lawsuit to challenge it was apparently poorly drawn. That's too bad. Because Barker's words, including the Kleenex remark were unprofessional. Ditto Posner. We expect better from judges.

The lawsuit on which they commented was seriously flawed. Crawford should not have been a plaintiff. I can drag out four or five people were were genuinely disenfranchised. Who do not have and do not want driver's licenses, and have little ability to get to a branch to get an ID, because they work.

Let's not bolster the pro-ID argument with urban myth. It's just not helpful.

Anonymous said...

Richard Posner is well known as one of the most intelligent judges on the federal bench. He's an iconoclast, and noted at times for his poor treatment of lawyers who appear before him (as are other members of the 7th circuit) there's no doubt, but is not afraid to follow a line of thinking to its logical conclusion to see where it leads. He's also been the author of numerous popular books.

Smearing Judge Barker and Judge Posner because they wrote a decision you disagreed with is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Judge Barker more than I disagree with her.

I read Circuit opinions for sport.

Your characterization of Posner is not shared by many.

And being impolite from the bench, whether lawyers are well-prepared or not, is more than just bad manners. It's ridiculous. Elitist. Not worthy of the robe and the respect.

Anonymous said...

Response to Anonymous 11:05 AM

Democrats seem to wear blinders when they are caught in the act, yet quick to blame Republicans for everything. I have worked the polls in Center Township for more than 25 years and It does happen. Maybe not in your area but it does occur, and is ignored. The poll books speak for themselves, and so does a little money. Not an urban myth as some of these bloggers would have us think. Denial keeps the violators out of jail.

Anonymous said...

What does the Democrat Party have against fair elections. The lawsuit was frivilous, and the plaintiffs mentioned were not disenfranchised in any way. If annonymous 11:05 has victims, they should have been on the suit. To settle this argument, prove it for the good of all citizens, and stop pointing fingers. More than 70% of voters chose not to vote last year in Marion County, voter ID did not keep them for voting. Could it be that over the years numerous poll workers and candidates have seen the inside of these elections and have chosen not to participate beacuse of the violations they have personally witnessed inside the polling areas?
Obviously, too many party loyalist are in denial as long they they are winning. By the way, I am a Democrat poll worker.

Anonymous said...

If you see it, you should report it.

Obviously, you haven't. We have had prosecutors of both parties who should and could look into it.

Urban myth. Period.

Anonymous said...

3:17 Wake up and smell the coffee!!!

How can you report voter fraud when the voter is anonymous?