Could this open the floodgates on Voter ID laws across the country?
For a man who supposedly doesn’t have the faintest clue what his own ATF is doing while bodies pile up in the hundreds in Mexico, thanks to Operation Fast and Furious, Eric Holder is rather busy sticking his nose into the business of states – and perhaps spelling the end of disparate treatment by the Department of Justice of southern states entirely. The DoJ, through its Civil Rights division, announced that it would block a new South Carolina law that required voters to show a photo ID when casting a vote, claiming that it had a disproportionate impact on minority voters.
One of the forms of acceptable photo ID is the South Carolina identification card issued by the state … for free. Applicants have to show proof of residency in the state and a birth certificate or passport that shows US citizenship. If they lack a birth certificate, the state will provide a certified copy for $12, either in person, by mail, or by phone for an additional fee of $12.95. Note that the federal government requires states to check photo-IDs to get gun permits, another right explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution, for which all of these same fees would apply in South Carolina.
Interestingly, this is almost identical to Indiana, which has a provision for free state IDs but only for the purpose of voting. They require the same documents to get the state ID, and charge between $5 to $12, depending on which county the birth record resides. Why is Indiana important? Because the Supreme Court approved an identical photo-ID voting requirement in Indiana in 2008, not to mention one in Georgia, also covered by Section 5, in 2005:
In the 2008 case, Section 5 wasn’t an issue, since Indiana wasn’t a covered state under its terms. It will be a big part of the case when Haley pushes it to the Supreme Court, not just on the thin 1.6% difference that the DoJ cited, but because the Court will have to take into account the 2008 case when it decides on South Carolina’s law. They can’t uphold the DoJ’s interpretation without relying on Section 5, but overruling the DoJ on this would all but eviscerate that section – and return the states under its aegis to the same voting-rights standards as every other state in the union, even if the Supreme Court doesn’t explicitly end Section 5, which the 2009 case showed they seriously considered doing at the time.