Friday, February 17, 2012

Bad Judge Draw for South Carolina in Voter Photo ID Preclearance Case

From Election Law Blog, by Rick Hasen

Via Texas Redistricting comes the news that the panel is district court judges Collen Kollar-Kotelly, and John Bates and D.C. Circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh.

This panel will decide whether the Department of Justice erred in not approving South Carolina’s voter identification law under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. DOJ concluded the law would worsen the position of minority voters because minority voters are less likely than whites to have government-issued id.

Among South Carolina’s arguments is that the court should read the preclearance requirement narrowly (making it easier to get things precleared) to avoid serious constitutional problems with a broadly-read section 5. (The underlying claim is that section 5 violates states’ rights to choose their own election rules and is now an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power given no recent history of intentional discrimination by covered jurisdictions.)

... But even if South Carolina faces long odds before the three-judge court, we all know the main action will be before the Supreme Court. That’s why South Carolina already hired big gun Paul Clement to work on this case.

The next question will be whether South Carolina seeks to expedite consideration of this case so that it will have a chance to use its voter id law in the November elections. I’ve explained in Slate how this could put the thorny issue before SCOTUS before the election (though that seems less likely as time ticks by).

Read the full article @ Election Law Blog

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