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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Ruling on Voter ID? Yes, here it is.

Abdul Hakim Shabazz has just posted:

I just word the Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the state’s Voter ID is constitutional. The ruling was 4-1.
The ILB has checked the docket; Here is what it says:
6/30/10 2010 TERM
WE AFFIRM THE JUDGMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT
GRANTING THE APPELLEE'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND
REJECTING THE PLAINTIFFS' CLAIMS THAT THE INDIANA
VOTER ID LAW CONTRAVENES ARTICLE 2, SECTION 2 OR
ARTICLE 1, SECTION 23 OF THE INDIANA CONSTITUTION.
------------ DICKSON, J.
SHEPARD, C.J., AND SULLIVAN AND RUCKER, JJ., CONCUR.
BOEHM, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE OPINION.
26 PAGES KM
For background on League of Women Voters, et al. v. Todd Rokita, argued March 4, 2010, a case of national interest, start with this ILB entry from March 1, 2010, and these resource pages from Nov. 18, 2009.

9:09 AM: Here is the just posted, 26-page page opinion, filed at 8:30 AM:

In League of Women Voters, et al. v. Todd Rokita, a 26-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

The sole plaintiffs in this case, the Indiana State and Indianapolis chapters of the League of Wom-en Voters, brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the Indiana Voter ID Law violates Ar-ticle 2, Section 2, and Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Voter ID Law did not violate either constitutional provision. The Court of Appeals reversed. League of Women Voters of Ind., Inc. v. Rokita, 915 N.E.2d 151 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009). We granted transfer, thereby automatically vacating the opinion of the Court of Appeals and accepting jurisdiction over the appeal, pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 58(A). Determining that this case presents only facial challenges to the constitutionality of the Voter ID Law, we now affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the complaint, but without prejudice to future as-applied challenges by any voter unlawfully prevented from exercising the right to vote.

The relief the plaintiffs seek is a declaration that it was beyond the power of the legislature to re-quire any voters to identify themselves at the polls using a photo ID. Voters have long been required to identify themselves at the polls by announcing and signing their names. Neither of the constitutional pro-visions the plaintiffs invoke prevents the legislature from promulgating a new way for voters to identify themselves. It is within the power of the legislature to require voters to identify themselves at the polls using a photo ID. The plaintiffs' claim for relief cannot be granted and dismissal was appropriate. No individual voter has alleged that the Voter ID Law has prevented him or her from voting or inhibited his or her ability to vote in any way. Our decision today does not prevent any such voter from challenging the Law in the future. * * *

Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan and Rucker, JJ., concur.

Boehm, J., dissents with separate opinion [which begins, at p. 19] I respectfully dissent. In broad brush, the issue in the federal constitutional challenges to Indiana’s voter identification law was whether the burdens this requirement imposed on some citizens’ right to vote were severe enough to overcome the presumption we give to all acts of the General Assembly. The Supreme Court of the United States resolved that issue against the plaintiffs, at least as far as any provision of the Federal Constitution is concerned. Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 128 S. Ct. 1610, 1615 (2008). The majority for the most part addresses this case as if that were the issue before us today. The majority categorizes the voter ID requirement as a regulation implementing the registration requirement and concludes that a regulation is valid if ―reasonable and uniform.‖ The majority dismisses the acknowledged problems that some voters may have in obtaining a voter ID as justified by perceived benefits in the integrity of the election.

As I see it, the state constitutional claim is quite different. The principal issue in this case is not a balancing of the relative benefits, if any, of a voter ID requirement against the problems that requirement creates for some citizens, if perhaps relatively few. The central question is who gets to resolve that issue under the Indiana Constitution. Under our Constitution some issues are immunized from revision by the temporary majority that comprises one session of the legislature, and must be addressed by the more deliberate and time consuming process of constitutional amendment. Article 16 of the Indiana Constitution permits amendment of the Constitution by agreement of a simple majority of each house in two successive General Assemblies, followed by approval by the voters of this state. This process is far less difficult than the approval by two-thirds of each house of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the state legislatures needed to amend the Federal Constitution. U.S. Const. art. V. But it nonetheless represents the decision of the framers of our State Constitution to reserve some issues from the normal legislative process and require a more deliberative process, more extended debate, and a consensus over a longer period of time than is needed for ordinary legislation.

One of the subjects that the Indiana Constitution reserves to the amendment process is the "qualifications" for voting. The question in this case is whether our State Constitution permits one session of the General Assembly to impose a voter ID requirement on Indiana voters, or requires that two successive sessions of the legislature agree that this measure is necessary, and then submit it to the voters for the people to make the final decision. For the reasons given below, I think both precedent and the language of the Indiana Constitution dictate that the voter ID requirement is an unauthorized qualification for casting a ballot. That requirement therefore can be imposed only if two successive sessions of the General Assembly and the voters of this state agree it is appropriate.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 30, 2010 08:45 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions