Nice Try

Arkansas’ voter suppression law loses its first court challenge:

[…]. In the hopes of combating a voter-fraud problem that doesn’t actually exist, the state’s voter-ID law presented “a limited range of government-approved forms of identification. Out-of-state college IDs, for instance, are not allowed. Voters without ID must cast provisional ballots, then go to the county clerk to affirm that they’re too ‘indigent’ to afford ID. And unlike some other states’ ID laws, this one does nothing to help voters obtain identification, such as providing transportation to government offices.”

The Arkansas state constitution has a voting rights provision, and the judge’s ruling was based on that. I don’t know what that means for appeals (does it stop at the Arkansas Supreme Court?), maybe some of our lawyers can explain that.






57 replies
  1. 1
    kbuttle says:

    The short-term-in-exclusivity strategy the Republican Party has adopted toward elections is truly something to behold.

  2. 2
    rumpole says:

    Yes. Constructions of the state constitution are not (generally) reviewable by the federal courts, -if- the state constitution provides more protection for a given right than the federal does. For example, a state may provide more speech protection, or protection from unreasonable search and seizure than is available under the federal constitution. If that happens, then the decision rests on an independent state law ground and should not be reviewed or reversed by a federal court.

  3. 3
    Cermet says:

    @rumpole: Yeah, that is, until you realize Robert’s court doesn’t give a shit about tradition. That ass wipe pile of shit will create any new law out of thin air if any corporations or the right wing benefits.

  4. 4
    karen says:

    Amending Arkansas Constitution in 10 – 9 – 8

  5. 5
    MikeJ says:

    What if I wanted to vote at a gun show? Would I still need to fill out all that annoying paperwork before I could exercise my rights or could we skip it in that instance? Also, since many states require you to be registered to vote 30 or even 90 days in advance of an election, why not a 90 day waiting period for guns?

  6. 6
    c u n d gulag says:

    To the Reich-Wingers, the right of suffrage is a leftie outrage!

  7. 7
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @Cermet:

    Well, the “adequate and independent state ground” principle isn’t tradition. It’s the law. It’s the way 28 USC 157 has been interpreted for 100+ years. And upending it would, I think, make the State’s Rights/Tenth Amendment crowd so enraged that Roberts is highly unlikely to do it.

  8. 8
    NotMax says:

    Nice Try

    Nothing nice about it. Nothing.

  9. 9
    MomSense says:

    Why do Republicans hate America?

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cermet: This isn’t tradition. This is lack of jurisdiction. If the case is entirely based on state constitutional grounds, there is nothing that the USSC can touch.

    ETA: As noted above, this is the case only if the state constitution offers greater protections than the federal one.

  11. 11
    Barry says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: “And upending it would, I think, make the State’s Rights/Tenth Amendment crowd so enraged that Roberts is highly unlikely to do it. ”

    First, the Rhenquist/Roberts reign has been (IIRC) a period with an extremely high overruling rate for precedent. Given the frequently open and highly political bias in the Gang of Four, this clearly is partisan.

    Second, the right doesn’t care about things which bash the left and minorities. They will cheer things done by the government which they scream about when done against their own.

    Third, we are seeing the right’s reaction to its demographic squeeze, which is to limit democracy. We see it in all three branches.

    I wouldn’t rule out the Roberts Court doing whatever it takes to keep the right from losing any more power.

  12. 12
    dp says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I understand what you’re saying, but lack of jurisdiction didn’t stop them in Bush v. Gore.

  13. 13
    NCSteve says:

    Actually, it’s kinda hard to tell whether there’s a lurking federal issue that could get the case to SCOTUS because the story stupidly links to the order entering judgment, not the opinion quoted in the story. It’s possible the plaintiffs asserted federal law in the alternative and the trial court held it didn’t need to reach that issue because of its state law ruling. (Which would be entirely proper).

    On the other hand, if you’re objective is to keep this out of Roberts’ hands at all costs, then yeah, you’d waive the right to ever assert federal law on appeal rather than risk a cert petition from the Arkansas Supreme Court to SCOTUS.

  14. 14
    Jennifer says:

    What I love about this ruling, other than the fact that it tosses out a shitty Republican law, is how the ruling came about.

    The legislature, which is Republican for the first time in over 100 years, lost no time in trying to make it harder for poor and black people, who in this state comprise the majority of the electorate, to vote. The governor vetoed it and then the legislative fuckwads came back and overrode the veto, so convinced were they that they’d never be able to hold the legislature otherwise (which is probably true – they only won last time because Obama is black). But because they are Republicans, they were sloppy about how they did things. They didn’t, for instance, include any guidelines about how this requirement to show ID would work with absentee ballots. So the Pulaski Co. elections board brought suit demanding an answer to that question. The judge hearing the cased decided to sit down and read though the entire law, and when he did, he determined that the whole damn thing was unconstitutional and threw it out. The primaries are less than a month away, so it’s doubtful any appeal to his ruling will be completed before the primary; even after the primary, I don’t expect his ruling to be reversed by the state supreme court. And as far as getting the state constitution amended to allow voter ID, I don’t see it happening. The voters (non-ID’d voters) would have to approve it and it could only get to the ballot through legislative action or initiative. The legislature might use one of their precious slots for amendments for this pile of crap, but the voters would reject it; as for getting it on the ballot via initiative, I doubt they’d be able to collect the number of signatures needed.

  15. 15
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @dp: Tru dat, but they were able to at least concoct a fig leaf of a 14th Amendment argument.

    Here, they’d have to argue that the state of Arkansas has a right under the U.S. Constitution to restrict voting in this manner.

    It’s damned hard to see how John Roberts could pull that one out of his ass.

  16. 16
    PaulB says:

    If the Arkansas court affirms the lower court ruling, that will be it; there would be no issue to take to the federal court. That doesn’t apply, though, if the Arkansas court overturns it and affirms the law. At that point, a federal case would be filed but targeted at the U.S. constitution rather than the state constitution.

  17. 17
    Jack the Second says:

    @J.D. Rhoades:

    And upending it would, I think, make the State’s Rights/Tenth Amendment crowd so enraged that Roberts is highly unlikely to do it.

    State’s Rights isn’t a position, it’s a tool used to defend the actual, abhorrent positions the wingers want to hold.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dp: How did the Court lack jurisdiction in Bush v. Gore? There were alleged (and fictitious) violations of the14th Amendment; that puts the case squarely in the Court’s purview.

    @NCSteve: I am not completely familiar with the procedural posture of the AR case, but I know that at least two of the cases that challenged the WI voter ID law were based solely on state constitutional grounds – citing only state law – for that specific reason. Other cases cited federal law and were filed and pursued in federal courts. You just need to win on one front.

  19. 19
    rikyrah says:

    San Francisco sues landlords who evicted tenants in order to rent rooms on Airbnb

    The city of San Francisco sued two landlords on Wednesday for
    allegedly evicting tenants to rent out rooms on such websites as Airbnb, opening a new front in a controversy over increasingly popular
    home-rental services.

    In separate lawsuits filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, the city
    named two groups of defendants that it called the “most egregious”
    offenders because they evicted disabled tenants before listing rooms
    online for as much as $595 a night.[….]

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....on-airbnb/

  20. 20
    Alabama Blue Dot says:

    Here in Alabama, we have a voter ID law, but there is actually an all-out effort to get ID to people. Our Secretary of State is a former Democrat, and our legislative districts are pretty gerrymandered so that could have something to do with it. But they are making an effort: there is a “votermobile” going out to rural counties, and a lot of PSAs on TV, radio and newspapers.

    We also have legitimate voter fraud cases involving absentee ballots. Several years ago there were convictions for fraud. Of course, voter ID doesn’t actually address absentee ballot fraud, but we can at least point to having a history of fraud. (Also, today we still have counties where the number of registered voters exceeds the census number of voting-age residents.)

    It’s a rare day when Alabama is doing something right, so I figure I ought to give a little credit.

  21. 21
    Belafon says:

    @low-tech cyclist: “No constitutional amendment overturned the founding fathers original intent that only landowners could vote. Furthermore, their intent was that landowners that owned urban, gangsta speaking property (can’t use nigger or negro) should have a majority voice in the government.”

  22. 22
    rikyrah says:

    Republicans Are Racists? No, It’s Just All a Big Coincidence

    The revolting comments. The emails. The jokes. The posters. The T-shirts. The ghostwriters. It’s not like it’s a pattern or something.
    Michael Tomasky 04.25.14

    Come on, fellow liberals. Calm down. I guess maybe it’s fair to call Cliven Bundy a racist. That “picking cotton” business put it over the top, and wondering whether they were better off under slavery. Even Sean Hannity, Bundy’s greatest media champion, threw in the towel last night: He wanted it to be “abundantly clear,” Hannity said at the top of his show, that he found the remarks “downright racist,” “repugnant,” “beyond disturbing,” and so on.

    OK, so Bundy’s a racist. It’s fine to point that out. But point up the fact that he’s a registered Republican? That’s where I draw the line, friends. I mean, come on. That’s just a coincidence. Total cosmic coincidence.

    Just like it’s a coincidence that that one black comic, a Barack Obama impersonator, was yanked offstage at an official Republican Party meeting in 2011 for telling a series of racially themed jokes. I mean, that could easily have happened at a Democratic—well, maybe not. But still. A coincidence. Just like it’s a coincidence that one federal judge who sent an email around to friends saying that Obama’s father was a dog happened to be a Republican. Complete and utter accident of fate, the puny matter of his voter enrollment.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....olitics%29

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    Mississippi is being somewhat smarter. It has the similar voter ID law, but has made clear, if not EFFECTIVE efforts to tell all the people who have no ID how to get one, even to the extent of providing rides to the Registrar’s to get valid ID. Never mind that inertia will mostly win that battle, without extraordinary efforts.

    I also do not know what unavailable documents are required for those free valid ID’s.

  24. 24
    burnspbesq says:

    @J.D. Rhoades:

    Well, the “adequate and independent state ground” principle isn’t tradition. It’s the law. It’s the way 28 USC 157 has been interpreted for 100+ years. And upending it would, I think, make the State’s Rights/Tenth Amendment crowd so enraged that Roberts is highly unlikely to do it.

    That’s all true. But an unbroken century-long string of precedent construing the Anti-Injunction Act didn’t prevent the Roberts Court from prematurely reaching the merits of the challenges to the PPACA, now did it?

    I think you’re right that this case can’t go to the Supremes, but I wouldn’t bet a mortgage payment on it.

  25. 25
    Eric U. says:

    @catclub: it’s often the case that the people that need the free ID’s are the ones that can’t afford to take off work to get one. I know someone in Georgia that took their housekeeper on a round of office visits to get an ID so she could vote. Imagine if that housekeeper didn’t know a democrat that would let her off of work and drive her around. In fact, I think Georgia’s law is pernicious enough that she didn’t end up getting an ID

  26. 26
    burnspbesq says:

    @rikyrah:

    You can read it however you want, but I’m seeing snark there.

  27. 27
    priscianus jr says:

    @rikyrah: “Come on, fellow liberals. Calm down. I guess maybe it’s fair to call Cliven Bundy a racist. ”

    Now hold on there just a cotton-pickin’ minute …

  28. 28
    priscianus jr says:

    @catclub: “I also do not know what unavailable documents are required for those free valid ID’s. ”

    If you are over 65 you must be accompanied by a parent or grandparent.

  29. 29
    Monty says:

    I’m so old I remember when the right wing cheerleaded going to war to give Iraqis the precious, precious right to vote. Memmmooorreeeeez…

  30. 30
    boatboy_srq says:

    @MomSense: Republicans don’t hate America. They just miss the lily-white, landowning, Righteous Upstanding Xtian Patriotic Ahmurrca of a yesteryear that never existed.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @burnspbesq: If the case was indeed based purely on AR law, what is the federal question?

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    OT: I was reading about states forbidding municipalities from raising the minimum wage.
    Could this workaround be legal? Suppose that you wanted to raise the min from $7.25 to $10.00
    per hour. Apply a payroll tax whose amount is the amount that any wage is under $10.00.
    (multiplied by the number of employee hours worked/paid.)
    So to avoid the tax, all employers have to do is raise their wages.

    Can cities apply payroll taxes?

  33. 33
    boatboy_srq says:

    @priscianus jr: Worse even than that.

    Mum’s passport expired, and she needed to go through all the State Dept hoops to get it replaced. Her birth certificate was a replacement document: the original (and the ability to produce any copies of it) went up in flames along with the rest of the county courthouse when she was about 8, and the state has been issuing replacement documents – along with an additional official state document explaining the situation and certifying that the replacement document is adequate – ever since. Not good enough for State Dept in post-9/11 mode, though: to get a full US passport she needed an affadavit from someone her age or older that attested to her birth and citizenship before they’d issue a replacement (for an expired passport in her possession, accompanied by SocSec card, FL state ID, and other related documents). She was 84 and one of the last survivors from her high school graduating class: finding someone that fit their criteria that was physically/mentally/legally able to respond was impossible.

    Nobody who whinges that “photo ID” is freely and easily obtained by anyone has never had to apply for one.

  34. 34
    catclub says:

    @boatboy_srq: It is possibly not surprising that when you do it the right way (the right way being their way) with the State Department, that passports are easy.

    Send them an UNexpired passport and that is all you need for ID for the new one, and it comes back in 3 weeks.

    Sorry for your struggles.

  35. 35
    kbuttle says:

    @Jennifer: You rock. Thanks for the great narrative run-down.

  36. 36
    Seanly says:

    @catclub:

    A) this makes no sense. I assume you mean that the city would tax the businesses $2.25 per hour per person and then distribute it back to the workers? I don’t think that would fly anywhere.
    B) it depends on the state laws. I’ve worked in NC, NJ, PA, SC & now ID and only in PA did I pay city taxes. SC allowed counties to levy an additional sales tax and in many places cities/counties can charge additional taxes on hotels & restaurant purchases.

  37. 37
    rikyrah says:

    @Barry:

    Third, we are seeing the right’s reaction to its demographic squeeze, which is to limit democracy. We see it in all three branches.

    they are NOT for democracy. Never have been.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rikyrah: This is true.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    @Eric U.:

    it’s often the case that the people that need the free ID’s are the ones that can’t afford to take off work to get one. I know someone in Georgia that took their housekeeper on a round of office visits to get an ID so she could vote. Imagine if that housekeeper didn’t know a democrat that would let her off of work and drive her around. In fact, I think Georgia’s law is pernicious enough that she didn’t end up getting an ID

    I don’t know why this is so hard for some people to understand.

    Maybe because you’re White.

    But, both my parents were from the Jim Crow South. I don’t think White people understand FULLY that that means, in terms of ‘ formal documents.’

    My Maternal grandparents had 15 children. And not ONE of them were birthed in a hospital. They were done by midwives because in rural Mississippi, there simply WERE NOT HOSPITALS THAT ACCEPTED BLACK PEOPLE.

    So, since it is usually a HOSPITAL that files a BIRTH CERTIFICATE, even back then, they had to wait on the midwife to do it, and then they had to go to the county seat and file it themselves.

    Now, lucky for my mother, her parents were educated. But, back then, if you were poor, guess what…the midwife wouldn’t file it until she got paid, and when you’re poor and have mouths to feed, filling it isn’t high on your list.

    So, because Blacks weren’t allowed in hospitals back then, there are whole swaths of Black folk born in the Jim Crow South for whom a regular Birth Certificate isn’t that easy a document to attain. They’re STILL being punished for Jim Crow – IN 2014!

    So, while, on its face, getting a birth certificate ‘ shouldn’t be’ that big of a deal, it actually IS.

    On top of COSTING MONEY to obtain one.

    It’s all part of the NEW POLL TAX.

  40. 40
    Barry says:

    @low-tech cyclist: “Here, they’d have to argue that the state of Arkansas has a right under the U.S. Constitution to restrict voting in this manner.

    It’s damned hard to see how John Roberts could pull that one out of his ass. ”

    Isn’t that what Roberts did basically did in Shelby County vs. DoJ? Invoke a ‘equal dignitude’ right of the state right out of his *ss?

  41. 41
    boatboy_srq says:

    @catclub: She didn’t realize that it had expired. State was pleasantly unhelpful (good people with a sh!tty procedure to follow). And the same documents that didn’t work in 2006 worked JUST FINE previously: her last passport was issued in 1985 or so based on the same bits’o’paper that they balked at in ’06. So process changed without warning to the average citizen. The problem State had was that the birth cert was dated 10 years after she was born – which somehow, even with the “courthouse burned with all its records, we the state of XX know this and are issuing these replacement documents and certifying their authenticity’ explanation, was just too mind-bending to process normally.

    They did let her out of the country and back in, and she never traveled after that, so it could have been worse. But if this can happen to an octogenarian with a solid record as a law-abiding citizen, imagine what can (and does) happen to folks who aren’t the right income-stratum/political-affiliation/skintone.

  42. 42
    Joe Buck says:

    The 24th Amendment forbids any poll tax. It doesn’t say that you can be charged a poll tax if you aren’t indigent. If there isn’t a way to get an ID that permits voting for free, it should be a no-brainer that you can’t do what the Arkansas law is doing.

  43. 43
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    25 lawyers, 25 different takes on the issue. Is this a great country or what?

  44. 44
    burnspbesq says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Roberts’ clerks will come up with something.

    (I’m channeling Cole here, in case you hadn’t noticed, in the hope that parodying his Grand Unified Theory of Judging as a Political Activity will show him how overstated it is).

  45. 45
    nancydarling says:

    Here is the entire opinion filed by Judge Fox if anyone is interested.

    http://posting.arktimes.com/me.....2510-2.pdf

    And here is the Arkansas Times’ coverage of the story.

    http://www.arktimes.com/Arkans.....ter-id-law

    I am ashamed to say that Bryan King, who sponsored the bill, is my state senator. He is a cattle rancher who lives somewhere east of me. His cattle brand is “KKK”. He’s got two brothers, see? That’s why there are three Ks in his brand. I suppose he thinks it’s clever. Given that there are about 6 black people in Carroll County and not that many more in his whole district, I don’t understand his obsession.

    King is an ALEC acolyte. Are these voter suppression laws an ALEC product?

    My state rep, Bob Ballinger, also supported this bill. They also opposed the private option expansion of Medicaid under Obama Care. Bryan and Bob—the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of the Arkansas legislature.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MomSense: Well, for one thing, we kicked a king in the balls 238 years ago. This really steams them.

  47. 47
    burnspbesq says:

    @Howlin Wolfe:

    25 lawyers, 25 different takes on the issue.

    Give us an hour to think about it and we’ll come up with 25 more.

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Barry: There is a difference between what the Court can do once a case is before it and whether a case can be heard by the Court at all.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @burnspbesq: Well then, Poe’s Law got me.

  50. 50
    VFX Lurker says:

    @rikyrah:

    So, because Blacks weren’t allowed in hospitals back then, there are whole swaths of Black folk born in the Jim Crow South for whom a regular Birth Certificate isn’t that easy a document to attain. They’re STILL being punished for Jim Crow – IN 2014!

    This is the stuff they didn’t teach me in school. Thank you for posting this.

  51. 51
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Jennifer: Thanks for the rundown. Was not aware that Blacks made up the majority of the electorate. That’s why it’s important to vote in every election. You never want the Repubs to win and get the majority of your state’s chamber. They’ll just muck everything up for you in as quick a time as possible.

  52. 52
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @catclub: Perhaps they ask how many bubbles are on a bar of soap

  53. 53
    nancydarling says:

    @Jennifer:

    I don’t expect his ruling to be reversed by the state supreme court.

    I wish I felt as sanguine about the Arkansas Supremes as you do.

  54. 54
    nancydarling says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Was not aware that Blacks made up the majority of the electorate.

    I did not read this in what Jennifer said. Here are the demographics from Wiki.

    the state was 80.1% White (74.2% non-Hispanic White), 15.6% Black or African American, 0.9% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.3% Asian, and 1.8% from Two or More Races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 6.6% of the population.[72]

  55. 55
    eyelessgame says:

    @dp:

    didn’t stop them in Bush v Gore

    Right, but Bush v Gore explicitly said that it was never, ever to be used as precedent for any other court ruling, ever.

    Which provides an elegant precedent for how to overturn the Arkansas Supreme Court without making it an assault on the 10th Amendment. Just play Calvinball again. It’s been done before! Precedentless Court rulings have a precedent now!

  56. 56
    Calouste says:

    @rikyrah:

    They are for “democracy” for rich white guys. Biggest cons in the Anglo-Saxon world is the idea that the Magna Carta and the original American Constitution are somehow definitions of democracy.

  57. 57
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste: The Magna Carta was all about the aristocracy reining in an asswipe Monarch.

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