I'm in the middle of Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Supreme Court, The Nine, so the partisan intrusion by the Court into the electoral process in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case has been recently recalled for me, in all of its infamous "glory."
Acting again to ensure that the Republicans maintain as much control over the electoral process as possible, the Supreme Court upheld a voter ID requirement, enacted by a Republican controlled state legislature in Indiana intended to "prevent fraud" -- or code for the ability to impede the poor and minorities from easily exercise their voting rights.
The SCOTUS Blog describes the result in Court rejects voter ID challenge:
The Supreme Court, voting 6-3, on Monday rejected a constitutional challenge to Indiana’s law requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID before they may cast a ballot.* * * *
The voter ID ruling may turn out to be a significant victory for Republicans at election time, since the requirement for proof of identification is likely to fall most heavily on voters long assumed to be identified with the Democrats — particularly, minority and poor voters. The GOP for years has been actively pursuing a campaign against what it calls “voter fraud,” and the Court’s ruling Monday appears to validate that effort, at least in part. The main opinion said states have a valid interest in preventing voting by those not entitled to do so, even if there is no specific proof of that kind of fraud in the state.
While the Court’s main opinion said it was “fair to infer that partisan considerations may have played a significant role” in enacting the photo ID law, it went on to say that that law was neutral in its application and was adequately supported by the justifications the state had offered.
Got that? Even though everyone knows that this law was an intentional attempt on the part of partisan Republicans to suppress votes, because they were able to cobble together a semblance of an excuse to justify what they did, it's OK.
The 6-to-3 ruling kept the door open to future lawsuits that provided more evidence. But this theoretical possibility was small comfort to the dissenters or to critics of voter ID laws, who predicted that a more likely outcome than successful lawsuits would be the spread of measures that would keep some legitimate would-be voters from the polls.See also, Supreme Court: States free to require photo IDs for elections.
Voting experts said the ruling was likely to complicate election administration, leading to both more litigation and more legislation, at least in states with Republican legislative majorities, but would probably have a limited impact on this year’s presidential voting.
I guess the best that can be said is to echo the sentiments of Michael Froomkin at Discourse.net:
My first reaction to today’s decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is that it is not as bad as it could be. But then, my expectations for this Supreme Court are pretty low.