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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Federal court ruling today holds the right to be issued a photo ID needed to vote, marry and adopt children is a property right protected by the 14th amendment

In Worley v. Waddell, Comm. of BMV (SD Ind.), a 12-page order issued late this afternoon, Judge Barker rules that the right to be issued a photo ID needed to vote, marry and adopt children is a property right protected by the 14th amendment and that before being finally denied a photo ID, Mr. Worley must be given a due process hearing to establish his identity through some means other than by producing the documents the BMV requires, which documents the BMV found to be inadequate because of the name discrepancy. Some quotes:

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit for declaratory and injunctive relief as a result of the refusal by Defendant, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles ("the BMV"), to issue Plaintiff a photo identification card I in the name under which he currently lives: Joesph A. Worley. Plaintiff contends that the BMV's unwillingness to issue him an Indiana photo identification card violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He specifically invokes the Due Process Clause of this amendment, which forbids "any State [ from] depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." U.S. Const. Amend. XIV, § 1. * * *

Our review of the record indicates that Mr. Worley cannot avail himself of the appropriate state law remedy, which is completion of the name change process detailed in the Indiana Code. In making this determination, the Court takes judicial notice of In re Name Change of Herron, No. 49A02-1205-MI-00364 (Marion Cir. Ct. Apr. 10,2012), and In re Name Change of Resnover, No. 49-C01-1110-MI-040823 (Marion Cir. Ct. Apr. 4, 2012). Both of these cases involved a similar situation to the case at bar. Specifically, the plaintiff in each case could not obtain a valid Indiana driver's license due to discrepancies between the names listed on his Social Security card and birth certificate. Despite the fact that appeals have been filed in these cases and reportedly still pend, both decisions read section 34-28-1-1 et seq. of the Indiana Code in conjunction with section 34-28-2-1 of the same to bar the plaintiff's otherwise legitimate petition for a name change. With no markedly different facts in the instant lawsuit, we cannot conclude that Mr. Worley would be more fortuitous in pursuing the same end. The prescribed state law remedy, although generally acceptable, fails to afford Mr. Worley full protection for important interests. For this reason, a hearing is necessary.

We recognize that the BMV's stated interest underlying these regulations is ' preventing voter fraud; as such, it is a strong and legitimate concern which we in no way wish to diminish. However, this interest, in our view provides further justification for a Fourteenth Amendment due process hearing. The exigency of holding such a hearing is, of course, obvious, given the upcoming November elections. Accordingly, the BMV is hereby ordered to conduct forthwith an evidentiary hearing during which Mr. Worley shall set forth the reasons he believes he should be granted a photo identification card. At the same time, the BMV will be permitted to conduct its own review of whether or not Mr. Worley's conduct is fraudulent or otherwise improper. The hearing and the decision by the BMV must occur with all due haste and, in any event, prior to the November 6th elections. All other facets of this lawsuit are stayed pending the outcome of this hearing. If Plaintiff is determined to be eligible to receive the state-issued identification card he seeks, the Court's delay in issuing this order to a time after the October 9th voter registration deadline shall not foreclose Plaintiff's ability to vote in the upcoming November elections based on his failure to register in a timely fashion. That said, when and if the BMV issues the identification document to Plaintiff, the issuance shall also effectuate his registration to vote. [emphasis by ILB]

ILB: Judge Barker authored the 2006 federal district court opinion in Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, which upheld Indiana's voter ID law. See this April 15, 2006 ILB entry. Here is the Jan. 4, 2007 entry re the 7th Circuit 2-1 opinion upholding Indiana's voter ID law in the case now styled Crawford v. Rokita. Here, from April 28, 2008, is the ILB post headed " Supreme Court rejects voter ID law challenge."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 9, 2012 08:25 PM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions