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Opening Arguments

Remember that ID

Indiana's Voter ID law gets a 6-3 passing grade from the Supreme Court:

A majority of the justices were persuaded that combating voter fraud and preserving the integrity of the polling place were important enough objectives to justify the ID law.


As important, Stevens noted, was the failure of opponents to demonstrate the burden that would be placed on elderly and minority groups. The record in the case was almost devoid of any pure numbers indicating the percentage of voters in Indiana who lacked an ID that would allow them to vote, a point underscored at oral argument.

It put the justices in the position of being asked to throw out a statute that they recognized served legitimate interest even though there was little evidence of the harm it caused. In the end, they couldn't do it.

Now, you can be sure of being able to rent a video, cash a check or buy an airline ticket on your way to vote.


tim zank
Mon, 04/28/2008 - 5:32pm

I pointed out a long time ago, this really won't hamper the Democrats that much, they'll just need to adjust their schedule to make one more stop with the bus. (Alleys & streetcorners FIRST, then the BMV for free I.D., THEN the liquor store.) Granted, it's an extra stop this time around, but if they start early, they'll get all those "disenfranchised" voters to the polls.

Mon, 04/28/2008 - 6:07pm

"Now, you can be sure of being able to rent a video, cash a check or buy an airline ticket on your way to vote."

And to heck with you if you can't do any of those things for yourself. You're probably not the right kind of voter anyway. Never mind that there is no real evidence of voter impersonation at the polls.

tim zank
Mon, 04/28/2008 - 6:48pm

Doug, does it really gall you that much to simply make the democrats accountable for whom they drag into the polls?

Harl Delos
Mon, 04/28/2008 - 7:15pm

The bill allows that if you don't have a photo ID, you can still vote if you present "a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows the name and address of the voter" An Amish farmer and his family won't have photo IDs, nor light bills, water bills, nor telephone bills, nor social security or welfare checks. The head of household probably has a bank account, but what about his wife, and the adult children that live with him? And the IRS demands that a tax preparer keep mum about the financial affairs of his customers. Is a poll worker similarly forbidden to gossip about the information on a bank statement? No.

Why do you want to suppress voting, Tim? Do you hate democracy THAT much?

tim zank
Mon, 04/28/2008 - 7:41pm

Harl, What I hate is people "gaming" the system, claiming to be helping the "disenfanchised" just to advance their own political advantage. There is NO LOGICAL (that's why dems don't like it) reason NOT to have verification of ones identity to cast a ballot. This entire country is suffering greatly from a HUGE lack of common sense and it is to the point of being absurd.

Harl Delos
Mon, 04/28/2008 - 8:09pm

Tim, the logical reason NOT to require photo ID is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Photo ID doesn't prevent bad checks, and it doesn't stop underage drinking.

On the other hand, matching signatures against the signature on file from the voter's registration works VERY well. I haven't EVER read a story about an impersonator stealing someone's vote in the last 50 years.

On the other hand, I *have* heard of people having driver's licenses carrying the address of an empty building or a private post office.

The way the system traditionally has worked is that you have to register at least 30 days before the election. That gives people an opportunity to challenge registrations. If you want to post the voter registrations online, so it'd be easy for people to see that someone is registered from that empty lot down the street or the vacant house next door, that'd be a very good idea.

And it wouldn't be nearly as offensive as demanding that the Amish give up their First Amendment rights in order to vote.

Tue, 04/29/2008 - 6:00pm

Harl ...

The Amish already have found ways around child labor laws, public education laws and traffic laws. How long do you think it will take for them to find a sympathetic state lawmaker to pass another religious exemption?

Harl Delos
Tue, 04/29/2008 - 7:49pm

There's no religious exemption to child labor laws, public education laws, or traffic laws. Due to the Yoder decision, they don't have to attend past the 8th grade, but neither does anyone else. The same laws apply to everyone.

There IS a religious exemption to the social security taxes, but railroad workers used to be exempt to social security, and many school teachers, librarians, and other government employees still are exempt.

Daniel Zehr, an Amish man from Canada married to an Amish US citizen returned to Canada in 2003 because his father had a heart attack, but because he doesn't have a photo ID, was not allowed to return to his home and his family.

Five years is a LONG time for husband and wife not to be together. How much longer do you suppose they will have to wait before a sympathetic lawmaker decides to pass a religious exemption?

If there was a valid reason to require a photo IDs, it would be different, but this law is just a poll tax - a way to keep "undesirables" from voting. If you don't have a car, it means taking time off from work, and hiring transportation, in order to go to the DMV and stand in line, where they will inevitably tell you that you don't have the right papers so you have to go home, figure out how to get the right papers, and take another afternoon off work, and hire transportation again.

And what papers do they want to see? A birth certificate. And how valid is that? There's no way to prove your birth certificate is actually yours, and not someone else's.

Tue, 04/29/2008 - 9:29pm

Harl ...

In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Old Order Amish and the Conservative Amish Mennonites in Wisconsin vs Yoder, granting an exemption for education beyond the eighth grade on religious grounds ...thank you very much.

The Amish regularly use the argument, when local officials challenge their use of children as workers in Amish-owned businesses, that Wisconsin vs Yoder is directed toward freeing their children to work.

In 1989, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed traffic citations against 14 Amish who had refused to display safety emblems on their horse-drawn buggies as required by state law on the basis that it was a First Amendment issue.

While you may be correct about the laws, these examples show that the courts are permitting exceptions.

Harl Delos
Wed, 04/30/2008 - 12:28am

Gadfly, the actual Yoder vs. Wisconsin decision is available on findlaw.com, if you'd like to read it. It doesn't say what you seem to think - not in the Burger opinion, not in the Stewart concurring opinion, not in the White concurring opinion, nor in Douglas's partial dissent.

The Supreme Court didn't grant an exemption to the Old Order Amish. They struck down the law in its entirety as unconstitutional. They held that mandating education through the 8th grade was permissible; mandating education through the 16th birthday was not. And a state isn't allowed to mandate education through the 16th birthday for non-Amish children, either.

The SMV symbol controversy doesn't involve the Old Order Amish but the Swartzentruber church. First in Michigan, then in Minnesota, then in Wisconsin, then in Pennsylvania, it's been ruled upon and reported, and there have been cases in New York, Kentucky and Ohio which have been unreported. In all cases, the highest court involved (in some cases, the state supreme court has refused to accept the appeal) has ruled that the law was unconstitutional, because the state failed to prove that the SMV symbol was the least restrictive alternative available that would satisfy the state's interest in traffic safety.

The courts are NOT permitting exceptions for the Old Order Amish, for the Swartzentrubers, for the Beachy, for the Peachy, for the Old Order Mennonite, for the New Order Amish, for the Church Amish, or for any other religious group. They find the laws unconstitutional, which means they cannot be enforced against anyone - even an Episcopalian.

It's quite reasonable to argue that laws concerning child labor are unconstitutional using the Yoder decision, whether you are Amish or not. The Yoder decision amounts to a "Cliff's Notes" to that part of the U. S. Constitution, as does every SCOTUS decision. Neither Congress nor the legislatures of the several states is free to do whatever it damnably well pleases. One of the key provisions of the U. S. Constitution is the 14th amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws, and Article IV, section 4, which guarantees that states will have a republican form of government.

The social security laws said that existing programs which serve the same purpose as Social Security, that is, old age, survivor and disability insurance, are grandfathered in. That's why the Railroad Retirement Board continued to exist for decades, until they decided to turn over everything to Social Security. In most states, state, county, municipal and school district employees have their own OASDI program and their employees do not participate in Social Security. The Amish don't get an exemption from Social Security because of their religion, but because they had their own OASDI-type program established long before Social Security was started.