Wednesday, January 9, 2008

On voter identification laws

So I was reading this article about the Supreme Court hearing a challenge to a voter identification law. In this case, it's opposed by the democrats and the ACLU, presumably on behalf of the many, many people who have registered to vote (which requires an ID and a verification of voting eligibility, in addition to registering you for other government service such as the draft and jury duty), but would forget to bring their ID to the voting booth with them.

Now normally, I'm about 50/50 with/against the ACLU. Sometimes they have good points, and sometimes they are out there. As the political opposite of the Cristian Coalition, I think they do serve a valuable function in our society (and I tend to side with them far more than I side with religious zealots, be they Christian (eg: anti-abortion groups), Muslim (Al'qaeda), or otherwise). But this time, you guys are wacked. If anything in our society should require a government issued means of identification to have access to, voting should be it.

But really, the part of the article that pissed me off was Scalia's agreement with the Bush administration's contention that the ACLU not be allowed to challenge the law on its face, but rather should show actual damage after the law has been in effect. That has got to be one of the stupidest things ever said (or, if Scalia is not a moron, things said purely for political purposes). One of the most unfortunate parts of our legal system is that you normally need to bring a case with damages in order to challenge the constitutionality of a law, when that clearly has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the law itself. The proposition that the court cannot rule on the constitutionality without an actual case is dumb: either the law is constitutional, or its not.

It would be like passing a law which said it was ok for Congress to shoot the president in the face, and then the court refusing the rule on the constitutionality of the law until a president had actually been killed. Please tell me our Supreme Court justices are not that dumb; I still have some hope for that branch of our government.

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