Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The state of Pennsylvania stipulated to the facts that it has no evidence of voter impersonation at the polls and that it does not expect any voter impersonation at the polls this November. Dozens of witnesses testified how they do not have state issued photo ID and Pennsylvania makes it difficult and expensive for them to obtain photo ID (a violation of the 24th Amendment prohibiting poll taxes), which will disenfranchise them of their fundamental constitutional right to vote for no other reason than they do not possess a photo ID. A no brainer, right? Or so every rational human being thought.
A Republican Pennsylvania state court judge today disregarded the overwhelming weight of the evidence and disregarded fundamental constitutional rights by ruling in favor of Pennsylvania Tea-Publican's Jim Crow voter suppression law. Judge won't halt Pa. voter identification law:
A tough new voter identification law championed by Republicans can take effect in Pennsylvania for November's presidential election, a judge ruled Wednesday, despite a torrent of criticism that it will suppress votes among President Barack Obama's supporters and make it harder for the elderly, disabled, poor and young adults to vote.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he would not grant an injunction that would have halted the law, which requires each voter to show a valid photo ID. Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 election looms.
"We're not done, it's not over," said Witold J. Walczak, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped argue the case for the plaintiffs. "It's why they make appeals courts."
The Republican-penned law - which passed over the objections of Democrats - has ignited a furious debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in deciding the presidential contest. Plaintiffs, including a 93-year-old woman who recalled marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960, had asked Simpson to block the law from taking effect in this year's election as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality.
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Simpson, a Republican, didn't rule on the full merits of the case, only whether to grant a preliminary injunction stopping it from taking effect.
In his 70-page opinion, Simpson said the plaintiffs "did an excellent job of `putting a face' to those burdened by the voter ID requirement," but he said he didn't have the luxury of deciding the case based on sympathy. Rather, he said he believed that state officials and agencies were actively resolving problems with the law and that they would carry it out in a "nonpartisan, even-handed manner."
The law, he said, is neutral, nondiscriminatory and applies uniformly to all voters. Speculation about the potential problems in issuing valid photo IDs or confusion on Election Day did not warrant "invalidation of all lawful applications" of it, he wrote.
Plus, more harm would result from halting the law, he said.
"This is because the process of implementation in general, and of public outreach and education in particular, is much harder to start, or restart, than it is to stop," Simpson wrote.
At the state Supreme Court, votes by four justices would be needed to overturn Simpson's ruling. The high court is currently split between three Republicans and three Democrats following the recent suspension of Justice Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican who is fighting criminal corruption charges.
Meanwhile, Obama's Department of Justice is looking at whether the new law complies with federal laws and has asked the state's top election official and a chief supporter of the law for a long list of information about it.
UPDATE: Read the opinion here (pdf).