Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Monday, April 17
Indiana Voter ID Law Upheld
A federal judge in Indiana has ruled against the state Democratic Party and the ACLU, in their effort to have that state's photo ID requirement enjoined. The order may be found here, and the AP has this report.

I've only had the chance to take a quick look at the opinion, but that reading suggests that an appeal is likely. The strongly worded opinion from Judge Sarah Evans Barker accuses the plaintiffs of "fail[ing] to adapt their arguments to the legal arena" and of asking the court to adopt "their own personal and political preferences." These are curious accusations, to say the least, particularly given that a district court in Georgia enjoined a very similar photo ID law on grounds very similar to those offered by voters in Indiana's case.

Another curiosity is Judge Barker's aggressive derogation of the expert report offered by Kim Brace of Election Data Services. As those who follow election administration with care know, Brace is a highly respected figure in the field. Yet Judge Barker goes hard after Brace's expert report, finding his analysis and conclusions "utterly incredible and unreliable."

A much more tangential curiousity in the opinion is a reference to a dissenting opinion by "Chief Judge Kozinski" of the Ninth Circuit on using some constitutional provisions as "springboards for major social change." The reference to Judge Kozinski isn't that surprising. Last time I checked, however, Kozinski wasn't Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, nor was he at the time of the 2003 opinion she cites (although he was chief judge of the federal court of claims prior to his appointment in 1985).

At any rate, the opinion as a whole is very heavy on rhetoric -- in fact it reads more like a lawyer's brief than a judicial opinion -- but it's not at all clear that its reasoning will stand up on appeal. More on this to come . . . .

Update: Not suprisingly, the Indiana Democratic Party has announced that it will appeal the district court's ruling to the Seventh Circuit.

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