Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Saturday, October 21, 2006

SCOTUS Season - Voter Identification in Arizona

Some people care about basketball season, others care about deer hunting season. I call those people freaks. The really exciting news is that it's SCOTUS season. The Supreme Court is in session and we got our first opinion of the term yesterday.

The case is Purcell v. Gonzalez, a challenge to Arizona's voter ID law, which the Supreme Court has upheld for the time being. Arizona, in an effort to prevent voter fraud, enacted a law that requires voters to show identification when voting. The problem is that the ACLU and the Democrats actually rely on voter fraud for a significant portion of their numbers, so they sued to overturn the law, which was enacted by Proposition (in other words, it reflects that actual will of the people, not just a group of legislators).

Opponents of ID laws argue that they discourage some people from voting, which constitutes disenfranchisement, and that the kinds of voters who are so discouraged tend (for demographic reasons) to be racial minorities. In other words, it's all a plot to keep blacks and latinos from voting. Of course, if that were the case then the same liberal groups would have had no problem with Missouri's voter ID law, pursuant to which poor people can actually get the state to pay of their IDs. Indeed, the only consistent factor in all challenges to voter ID laws is that liberal groups want to make it as easy as possible for liberals to perpetuate election fraud.

The Supreme Court's opinion acknowledges the interest in free access to the polls, referring to "plaintiffs’ strong interest in exercising the 'fundamental political right' to vote. Although the likely effects of Proposition 200 are much debated, the possibility that qualified voters might beturned away from the polls would caution any districtjudge to give careful consideration to the plaintiffs’ challenges."

The interesting thing about the opinion, however, is that while it makes lukewarm reference to the right to vote, it has glowing praise for a state's right to prevent fraud:

"A State indisputably has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of its election process. Confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised.

"The right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectivelyas by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise." (internal citations and quotes omitted).

Two points: first, honest voters don't just feel disenfranchised by voter fraud -- they are in fact disenfranchised, because their votes are negated by those of non-existent persons, or non-citizens, or dead people.

Second, and again we're going back to my theme, the only time liberals are interested in preventing disenfranchisement is when it's disenfranchisement of people with no right to vote anyway. Washington governor Christine Gregoire, for example, won her hotly contested election campaign with the help of votes in heavily democratic counties that registered more votes than there are residents, and with votes cast by dead people -- obvious proof of voter fraud, and a genuine case of disenfranchisement -- but Washington's liberal judges denied a challenge to the results. Again, disenfranchisement is only unacceptable when it hurts liberals.

The Supreme Court's ruling was only technical, and it expressly declined to pass on the constitutionality of the Arizona law. The only effect of the ruling was to vacate a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the state from enforcing its laws this time around. The Court will probably take up the case (or a similar one) after the election, when all the facts are in, and allegations of potential fraud or disenfranchisement can be proven by evidence, rather than speculation. Still, the ruling is a victory, however temporary, for common sense.