PA Supreme Court Vacates Order Denying Injunction on Voter ID Law

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court which refused an injunction against the Voter ID law. The opinion is here.

[W]e agree with Appellants’ essential position that if a statute violates constitutional norms in the short term, a facial challenge may be sustainable even though the statute might validly be enforced at some time in the future. Indeed, the most judicious remedy, in such a circumstance, is the entry of a preliminary injunction, which may moot further controversy as the constitutional impediments dissipate.


....Thus, we will return 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. In this regard, 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.

Also noted by the Supreme Court:

There is little disagreement with Appellants’ observation that the population involved includes members of some of the most vulnerable segments of our society (the elderly, disabled members of our community, and the financially disadvantaged).

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    This is such an indictment (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 08:11:45 PM EST
    of the American public that they don't see this, en masse, for the cynical, and toxic assault, on everyone`s most fundamental Constitutional right, the right to vote. You would think that blood would be flowing in the streets from this, the Republican's hideous attempt to win by intimidation what they can't win by a fair election.

    Ruppert Murdoch may have failed in this latest attempt to steal an election, but in his primary goal, the dumbing down of the electorate, he's been a resounding success.

    Hopefully (none / 0) (#1)
    by Makarov on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 01:17:19 PM EST
    the order to reconsider along narrow lines will be sufficient to result in an injunction from the Commonwealth court judge.

    My concern, as a PA resident, in the meantime is that the state is running Voter ID commercials on TV, stating you must have photo ID to vote. Those commercials, themselves, may result in voter suppression even if the law is enjoined and not in effect come November.

    Exactly the impact (none / 0) (#2)
    by Towanda on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 01:42:01 PM EST
    of this roller-coaster ride about the voter suppression laws in my state.

    And exactly the intent, I think, of the evil forces behind these laws.  It's a win-win for them, either way.  

    (And for their lawyers' bottom line, of course.)


    While the per curiam opinion is... (none / 0) (#3)
    by rdandrea on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 02:09:12 PM EST
    ...where the rubber meets the road, the dissents were also interesting.

    They are here and here.

    While an outright reversal would have been better (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Peter G on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 03:15:32 PM EST
    a remand to assess the law under a standard of "no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement" would seem to be one step short of an imminent victory for the ACLU and other opponents of this cynical anti-democracy ploy.

    Really? (none / 0) (#8)
    by womanwarrior on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 09:31:52 PM EST
    Can one ever over-estimate the ability of the Commonwealth or even a judge to lie?

    Nice one... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 02:14:37 PM EST
    Not so fast Jim Crow, back to the lower court with your sorry arse.

    Poor Mitt Romney can't catch a break;)

    And After This Week... (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 03:42:54 PM EST
    .......they are going to have to disenfranchise about a quarter of eligible voters for Romney to win.

    Check out this SNL skit, Obama's secret weapon...


    FL Voter shennanigans (none / 0) (#9)
    by marvc on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:36:02 PM EST
    As a resident and voter in SW Florida -- one of the reddest areas of the state outside of the panhandle -- I have made sure I am registered and last month made sure to vote in the primary so they will know I am an active voter. I remember last year when first registered to vote, as I handed in my registration card, the man behind the counter ask me what party I was with. I told him Democratic Party, and could have sworn he shuddered as he took my form from me. I think his reaction was to the increasing number of new voters who are registering as Democrats.

    A couple of days ago a new family bought and moved into the house across the street from me, and after getting settled in, they came over to introduce themselves and ask me a few questions about the neighborhood. As we were standing there talking, they noted that I had Obama bumper stickers on my truck, and said they were Obama supporters too. When I asked them where they were moving from, they said they were coming from New Brunswick, NJ. Since I recently moved here from Bloomfield, NJ, not all that far from New Brunswick, I knew that the area they came from, like the area I came from, is one of the strongholds of the Democratic party in NJ. I then learned that they were Hispanic (unlike Scott Brown, some Hispanics do not look dark skinned, as they did not, and they had no discernible accent). Turns out they are Puerto Rican! This is by far the largest growing segment of the Hispanic demographic in Florida these days. I welcomed them to the neighborhood and plan to go visit them this weekend to make sure they know where to go to get registered to vote and where to vote come November. I'm just loving that this state is turning bluer and bluer with each passing year and each passing electon.

    Today, I received a letter in the mail from the State of Florida reminding me that I can always vote absentee if I prefer "to avoid having to stand in those long lines on election day." My first thought was, is this the state trying to make sure all those Republicans vote, even if absentee, so they are not inconvenienced by the voter suppression tactics in place in the state? I do not plan to vote absentee because I want to make sure some partisan bureaucrat doesn't decide to "accidentally lose" my ballot when they receive it. Besides, I truly love going to the polls and carrying out one of my most precious civil rights duties. Thankfully, in FLorida now ballots are cast on ScanTron type machines, where the voter fills in a circle next to the candidate of choice, and then carries the ballot in a "cover folder" to the machine where you then insert the ballot yourself and get a confirmation that your ballot has been registered and tallied. Much better than the way we did it in NJ where there was a computer machine with soft touch "buttons" by the candidates name, and no paper ballot generated or available in the case of a recount. Never liked that system.

    I'm feeling good, however, about Obama's chances here in FL. I almost never see any Romney/Ryan bumper stickers, but have seen a few Obama ones -- and again, this is a very red area of the state. Can't wait to cast my vote to help Obama win FL...