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August 2, 2016

Judicial Activists Dismantling Voter ID Laws

Four states just suffered significant setbacks.

Judicial activism is taking a heavy toll at the state level, where the conservative groundswell generated by Barack Obama’s leftist agenda is taking hit after hit. Unfortunately of late, four states with voter ID laws have suffered stinging defeats. It began on July 20 in Texas, where the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state’s “discriminatory” ID requirement law to be amended by the lower courts.

Then, on Friday, North Carolina and Wisconsin were dealt similar blows. In the Tar Heel State, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated voter identification requirements, arguing such laws are onerous because they “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” Meanwhile, in the Midwest, U.S. District Judge James Peterson decreed, “The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement,” thus the Badger State’s “strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”

Unfortunately, the setbacks didn’t end there — and probably won’t for some time — as yesterday North Dakota joined the ranks. According to U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland, “[I]t is clear that a safety net is needed for those voters who simply cannot obtain a qualifying voter ID with reasonable effort.” He went on to argue, “Voter fraud in North Dakota has been virtually non-existent.” Furthermore, “The undisputed evidence before the court reveals that Native Americans face substantial and disproportionate burdens in obtaining each form of ID deemed acceptable under the new law.”

None of these laws were repealed through the ballot box, but rather by judges who ignored state legislatures, elected by their constituents with knowledge of what’s best for their state. And as Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund write in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, “The Supreme Court concluded in 2008 that voter ID is constitutional and doesn’t impose an unreasonable burden on voters. But the recent decisions of … federal courts throwing out voter-ID laws in North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin [and now North Dakota] as discriminatory have put opponents of common-sense election reforms in raptures. These erroneous rulings twist the Voting Rights Act from a law intended to stop racial discrimination into one that transfers the power to determine routine election procedures — which the Constitution delegates to the states — to the judiciary.”

As Thomas Jefferson warned, “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” That’s why, in the words of John Adams, “[J]udges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention.”

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