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Scott Keyes @smkeyes
BREAKING: Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns voter ID law

Scott Keyes @smkeyes
Clarification: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated a trial judge's ruling that upheld voter ID; case will be re-heard

Scott Keyes @smkeyes
RT @PhillyInquirer: Correction: Supreme Court vacates lower court order on Voter ID law; sends it back for review.

Nicole Sandler @nicolesandler
RT @froomkin: PA Supreme Court tells district judge "to consider whether the procedures being used 4 deployment " of cards comports w/ law

Nicole Sandler ‏@nicolesandler
RT @froomkin: PA Sup Ct tells district judge if he "is not still convinced; that thr'llll B no voter disenfranchisement" he shld enjoin it.

Scott Keyes @smkeyes
Follow @phillyinquirer for more breaking news on Pennsylvania voter ID decision

It's unclear what this means; whether the law won't be able to be in place for the November election, or what.  Stay tuned.

10:48 AM PT:

David Harris-Gershon ‏@David_EHG

This is a big deal. RT @PhillyInquirer [Pennsylvania] Supreme Court vacates lower court order on Voter ID law; sends it back for review.

10:49 AM PT: No one is tweeting a link to the decision yet, although obviously someone has it as Nicole Sander is quoting from it (unless she's reading a printed copy)

10:55 AM PT: Major Update:

Via ThinkProgress

Today, the state supreme court vacated that order, noting that the law is not living up to its own promises of ensuring voters will have access to ID:

((Quoting from the decision now))

[T]he Law contemplates that the primary form of photo identification to be used by voters is a Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver’s license or the non-driver equivalent provided under Section 1510(b) of the Vehicle Code. Furthermore, the Law specifically requires that – notwithstanding provisions of Section 1510(b) relating to the issuance and content of the cards – PennDOT shall issue them at no cost . . . . As such, the Law establishes a policy of liberal access to Section 1510(b) identification cards.

However, as implementation of the Law has proceeded, PennDOT – apparently for good reason – has refused to allow such liberal access. Instead, the Department continues to vet applicants for Section 1510(b) cards through an identification process that Commonwealth officials appear to acknowledge is a rigorous one. Generally, the process requires the applicant to present a birth certificate with a raised seal (or a document considered to be an equivalent), a social security card, and two forms of documentation showing current residency. The reason why PennDOT will not implement the Law as written is that the Section 1510(b) driver’s license equivalent is a secure form of identification, which may be used, for example, to board commercial aircraft.

The Department of State has realized, and the Commonwealth parties have candidly conceded, that the Law is not being implemented according to its terms. . . . Overall, we are confronted with an ambitious effort on the part of the General Assembly to bring the new identification procedure into effect within a relatively short timeframe and an implementation process which has by no means been seamless in light of the serious operational constraints faced by the executive branch. Given this state of affairs, we are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials, even though we have no doubt they are proceeding in good faith.

11:00 AM PT: Link to decision thanks to TenthMuse.

11:05 AM PT: Critical wording from the decision:

... the court is to consider whether the procedures being used for deployment of the cards comport with the requirement of liberal access which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards.If they do not, or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.

11:12 AM PT: So as I am understanding this now, the law is still in effect.  The law is not vacated.  The lower court has to reconsider it's ruling (which is now vacated) but the law is still in effect.  It's not clear if the PA Supreme Court put any time limit on when the lower court has to do something, but they sure seem to be telling the lower court not to fuck around and to issue a preliminary injunction.

11:15 AM PT: Via Bob B:

The lower court judge has until October 2 to issue a new opinion.
Which presumably means they should issue a preliminary injunction very soon.  No point issuing an injunction a day before the ruling...

11:19 AM PT: Meteor Blades has a front page diary up on this

11:24 AM PT: From a dissenting opinion, which says the law should have been struck down, not just send back for re-consideration:

it is clear to me that the reason for the urgency of implementing Act 18
prior to the November 2012 election is purely political. That has been made abundantly clear by the House Majority Leader. Exhibit 42 at R.R. 2073a. I cannot in good conscience participate in a decision that so clearly has the effect of allowing politics to trump the solemn oath that I swore to uphold our Constitution. That Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be
trampled by partisan politics.

11:28 AM PT: From the other dissenting opinion, along similar lines:

The eyes of the nation are upon us, and this Court has chosen to punt rather than to act. I will have no part of it.

11:31 AM PT: Report on this from Slate

11:32 AM PT: Via ThinkProgress again:

Today’s decision is not a victory against voter ID, yet. The state justices merely “return[ed] the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available.” Nevertheless, the supreme court also makes clear that the lower court must suspend the law if “liberal access” to voter ID is not ensured, or if voter disenfranchisement will result in the 2012 election.

It appears much more likely today than it did yesterday that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law will not be in effect this November.

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