A note on the Supreme Court voter ID ruling; GOP chair gets cut a break by court | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A note on the Supreme Court voter ID ruling; GOP chair gets cut a break by court

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

A touch more on the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that overturned Circuit Judge Tim Fox's holding that the Voter ID law was unconstitutional. To be clear: It was not a substantive ruling and it took Republican Chairman Doyle Webb off the hook for giving the judge a premature opening to strike down the law in the first place.

From the court discussion:

The question then becomes whether the constitutionality of the act was properly before the circuit court for a ruling. Based on the record before us, we must conclude that the answer to that question is no.

The ruling came as Fox also invalidated as unconstitutional a rule promulgated by the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners to fix a gaping hole in the Voter ID law. That law gave in-person voters a chance to produce an ID if they didn't have one when they voted, but provided no cure for absentee voters who failed to include an ID in their mailed-in ballots.

The ironic result of this ruling, as two dissenters noted, is that the court has left in place a system that has a strange result. Fox equalized the positions of the two classes of voters by striking down the law. The Supreme Court has now produced two classes of voters with unequal treatment by throwing out the rule and keeping the flawed law..

The Supreme Court said the Pulaski County Election Commission, which brought the suit, had not asked for a summary judgment on constitutionality of the act. It dismissed the commission's argument that the Republican Party intervenor, Doyle Webb, had — as I've noted previously — injected the constitutionality of the entire himself  by saying if the court struck down the "cure" rule he was defending that the constitutionality of the act would be in question.

The Court agreed that Webb had written in a motion that

"unless the challenged regulations are permitted to stand, the state of Arkansas will be in violation of the equal protection clauses of both the Arkansas and Federal constitutions." Although Webb mentions constitutional provisions, we simply cannot construe his statements as direct challenges to the constituionality of Act 595 itself. We have held that we will not strike down a legislative act on constitutional grounds without first having the benefit of a fully developed adversial case."

They'll get one. And Doyle W ebb should write a thank-you note to the court for giving a pass on putting his own brief in his mouth.

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