MU Professor Says U.S. Supreme Court's Decision to Uphold Voter ID Law Should Not Revive Stricken Missouri State Law
Court's decision is important as more states consider voter ID legislation
April 29, 2008
Story copy.COLUMBIA, Mo. – The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday, in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, to uphold an Indiana voter ID law that requires voters to provide proof of identity with a government-issued photo identification. A University of Missouri law professor said the decision should not revive a similar state law stricken by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2006.
“The Missouri Supreme Court relied on the state, not the federal, constitution, in reaching its decision,” said Richard C. Reuben, James Lewis Parks Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law. “While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision will have less of an impact in Missouri, the decision will be important in many other states. More than half the states have passed voter ID legislation in recent years. Most of those laws are not as strict as the Indiana law upheld in this case before the court.”
Reuben said the Supreme Court’s decision was not surprising, as the Court historically has permitted states to set the qualifications for voting, allowing them to impose reasonable, non-discriminatory limitations on the right to vote. In this case, the state of Indiana wanted to assure the integrity of its electoral process. The Court held that this interest was “sufficiently weighty” to justify the voter ID requirement. Opponents had argued that the law was overly burdensome because of the possible inconvenience in getting the necessary paperwork to get the “free” government ID card. Reuben said the ID cards have costs associated with securing the necessary paperwork and photograph, such as a birth certificate or passport.
“Critically, the court’s decision was limited to a general challenge to the validity of the Indiana statute,” Reuben said. “In so holding, the court does leave the door open to further challenges by individuals who are burdened, such as the elderly or handicapped. I would expect to see some of those complaints in the near future because of the upcoming election.”