Time constraints necessitate a brief diary, but I thought this was worth posting -- a brief report in on today's PA Supreme Court argument on PA's controversial Voter ID law.
The Court hearing the appeal is split 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans -- a seventh judge (a Republican) is currently disqualified -- and heard the same arguments that were presented by the plaintiffs challenging the law that were presented to Commonwealth Court Judge Simpson, who upheld the law based on principles of deference to the legislature, despite what he acknowledge to be problems with the law.
On appeal, plaintiffs argued that Simpson applied the wrong level of scrutiny to the law, and should have required the state to show that the restrictions in the law were narrowly tailored to achieve the purported legislative purpose of deterring voter impersonation fraud.
According to a report in The Nation, the Democratic appointees on the Court were receptive to these arguments, and questioned why the law -- which was adopted in March of this year -- should be implemented for the upcoming 2012 election given the varying reports on how many people did not have access to state-sanctioned ID, and how little had been done by the state thus far to provide voters with such ID. A lawyer for the state reportedly acknowledged, in response to a question from the bench, that the confusion over the law could be eliminated by implementing it over the course of several elections, as the PA Bar Association had recommended.
Keep reading below.....
On the other hand, according to the report, the Republicans on the Court sat mostly silent. Ominously, according to The Nation, "Chief Justice Ronald Castille, who overturned the GOP's redistricting plans and is thought to be the swing justice on the court, stayed mostly silent and appeared irritated, at times, with the outspoken Democrats." Getting at least one Republican appointee to side with the appellants is critical, as a tie will leave the lower court ruling upholding the law intact.
On the other hand, several other reports have noted that at least one of the Republican appointees asked questions that might suggest that he was concerned that the voter ID law does not guarantee PA citizens a right to vote:
There are some hints that at least one Republican justice could break ranks. At the hearing, Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, asked the state's lawyers whether the law guarantees every registered voter can cast a vote -- a question they could only answer in the negative.The Nation's full report is can be found at http://www.thenation.com/...* Dan Froomkin's report at Huff Po can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.... A decision is expected within several weeks. Keep your fingers crossed.
***Apologies for the link, for some reason my computer is not letting me link as usual.