Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New York Review of Books: Indiana's Supreme Court Photo ID law argument ringered?

Andrew Hacker in the New York Review of Books, points to a difficult to understand factoid regarding the recent crucial Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s law requiring a government document with a photograph in order to vote. It turns out that the lawyer arguing the plaintiff’s case against the Indiana law was effectively playing for the opposite team. When s/he was pressed by the judges for the number of people who would be affected by the law, s/he understated it by more than 10 times!! 43,000 instead of 673,926.
Hacker's article is certainly worth reading though depressing, as it looks clearly at the racial aspects of the campaign which now seems as if it will spell doom for our last hope for some change. --RB

New York Review of Books · September 25, 2008
From: Obama: The Price of Being Black
By Andrew Hacker

In a 6–3 decision in April written by John Paul Stevens, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board , the Supreme Court upheld a 2005 Indiana law requiring voters in that state to produce a government document with a photograph at the polls. In practical terms, this meant a passport or a driver's license. Since less than a third of adults have a passport, the Indiana case focused largely on how many adults lack a license to drive. During oral arguments, several justices pressed the plaintiff's lawyer for an answer. For reasons I cannot fathom, he kept using the number 43,000, for a state whose voting-age population is 4.6 million. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration, in an easily obtained report, says that 673,926 adult residents of Indiana have no license, which works out to a not trivial 14.7 percent of the state's potential electorate. Had that percentage been stressed, we can conjecture that Justices Stevens and Anthony Kennedy might have shifted their position.

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