Voter ID Laws

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently issued two rulings upholding 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, a state law requiring voters to present photo identification at polling places. The court ruled that mandating ID does not place a substantial burden on voters, nor does it create an unreasonable regulation on elections. The Seventh Circuit is still considering a challenge to the same law, however. In April, Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that the law unduly burdens some voters, particularly low-income ones, and violates the Voting Rights Act. This week, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed motion to lift the injunction created by Judge Adelman’s earlier ruling.
Wisconsin’s court battles reflect the nationwide debate about voter ID laws. Proponents of the laws argue that abuse is rampant, ID laws make a clear statement that corruption is intolerable, and requiring photo identification is a minimal burden.

Opponents of voter ID laws contend that voter fraud is rare, but voter suppression is likely. At the Washington Post, Justin Levitt argues that his extensive, nationwide research of election fraud reveals only 31 incidents since 2000. Levitt points out that more than 1 billion ballots have been cast in that time. Allegations of voter intimidation or suppression are common, though what counts as a criminal offense or civil rights violation may be hard to define. Physical threats obviously count. Jim Crow’s shameful legacy of literacy tests and poll taxes obviously do. Willful disinformation campaigns do. Whether insisting on photo identification, which may be more difficult for people in some communities to provide, counts as voter suppression is a much closer call.

Both sides offer up horror stories. True the Vote trumpets allegations of misconduct on one side, while the NAACP insists that election officials continue to suppress minority votes on the other. Mostly the discourse drops to the level of anecdote. Too often, the deciding factor reduces to which seems more plausible to you personally — that people who shouldn’t vote do, or that people who should don’t?

Where does the conversation go from there?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Battling Anecdotes With Symbols: Why The Voter ID Debate Goes Nowhere”

* For the third year in a row, Skadden has topped the list of the Biglaw firms GCs love to pay, the firms with the best brands. Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins rounded out the top three. Congratulations! [PRWeb]

* A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law yesterday, noting that it “only tenuously serve[d] the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud.” Ouch. Sorry about that, Scott Walker. [Bloomberg]

* Hot on the heels of the release of the second annual ATL Law School Rankings, we’ve got a list of the law schools where graduates reportedly have the least amount of debt. We’ll have more on this news later today. [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]

* It was kind of like the night of the living dead in Oklahoma last night, where an execution was botched so badly the defendant attempted to rise up off the table. That must have been horrific. [New York Times]

* Here’s an eligible bachelor alert: After being suspended from practice for six months for filming “upskirt” videos of women in public, this in-house lawyer has been reinstated. [Legal Intelligencer (reg. req.)]

* Poor Justice Lori Douglas. Not only are her kinky S&M pictures floating around somewhere online, but the man who took them — her husband, Jack King — just died. RIP, good sir. [CTV Winnipeg News]

* NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a former Cravath lawyer, fouled L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling out of the league, but people are questioning whether his punishment was legal. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* If you thought the Redskins were offensive, I bring you the Coachella Valley High Arabs. Complete with video of their mascot! [Yahoo! Sports]

* With states increasingly losing access to tried and true execution drugs, the wardens are now experimenting on their own. This sounds (a) incredibly cruel and unusual, and (b) likely to result in creating a supervillian. [Vocativ]

* Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott fought hard for a voter ID law. And on Tuesday, he failed to meet the standards of the law he championed. Derp. [Opposing Views]

* We frequently link to the fun poetic stylings of Poetic Justice. Now you can enter a contest to win a free copy of the book! [Poetic Justice]

* In a horrific turn, a father called the cops to teach his son a lesson. Then the cops killed the son. [Gawker]

* Fear Roatti the White Tiger, Esq. Fear him mightily. [Deadspin]

* This is perhaps the weirdest law firm video ever. Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 11.08.13″

The point I was making in my book in mentioning the Crawford case was not that the decision was right or wrong … but that in many cases judges can’t have any confidence in the soundness of their decisions if they do not have empirical data concerning the likely consequences of deciding the case one way rather than another.

– Judge Richard Posner, backtracking a bit from his earlier comments suggesting that he now feels he wrongly decided Crawford v. Marion County Election Board when he noted in his book Reflections on Judging (affiliate link) that empirical evidence, unavailable in the 2007 case, has mounted that voter ID laws may suppress voting more than prevent fraud.

* Even the election law controversies are bigger in Texas. The Department of Justice is currently planning to intervene in one lawsuit and file another against the Lone Star state over its voter identification law and redistricting plans. [National Law Journal]

* Here’s an especially helpful ruling for people who have been living their lives without landlines (so, basically everyone). You can gratefully thank the Third Circuit for allowing you to block those annoying robocalls on your cellphones. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Well, that was quick — a Biglaw pump and dump, if you will. After only a year, David M. Bernick, former general counsel of Philip Morris, is leaving Boies Schiller and will likely be taking a position at Dechert. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[L]ife got in the way.” Who really needs loyalty in Biglaw these days? More than half of the nearly 500 associates and counsel who made partner in 2013 started their careers at different firms. [Am Law Daily]

* Another one bites the dust. John McGahren, the New Jersey managing partner of Patton Boggs, just resigned from an office he opened himself after some major attorney downsizing. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* “In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing.” Comforting. Microsoft is under the microscope of a federal bribery probe. [Corporate Counsel]

* Ronald Motley, a “charismatic master of the courtroom” who founded Motley Rice, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

Justice rests.

* No, silly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t “too old” to be a Supreme Court justice. So what if she uses the SOTU address as her personal naptime? She’s brilliant, and everyone loves her. [Los Angeles Times]

* “Justice delayed due to overworked judges can … mean justice denied,” and Obama’s got a lot of work ahead of him due to a “uniquely high” amount of judicial vacancies on his watch. [National Law Journal]

* After the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Southern states have rushed to push out voter ID laws. But isn’t that discriminatory? “Not true, not true,” as Justice Alito would say. [New York Times]

* It turns out the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s redefinition of the word “relevant” is what has allowed the NSA to collect anything and everything. Say au revoir to privacy! [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Layoffs: they aren’t just for Biglaw firms anymore! McGeorge Law School is downsizing its staff and student ranks due to an “unprecedented drop” in applications. Another one bites the dust; which law school will be next? [Sacramento Bee]

* Client 9, aka Eliot Spitzer, announced his candidacy for NYC comptroller. He’ll run against Kristen Davis, the woman who once set him up with escorts. That’ll be an awkward debate. [New York Times]

* As the prosecution rests its case and the defense’s acquittal motion is denied, a nation is left wondering whose voice it was on that 911 recording — Trayvon Martin’s or George Zimmerman’s? [CNN]

I voted today. I hope you did too or will soon.

It wasn’t “easy.” I voted on the Upper East Side of New York, not exactly a contested district, but I still had to stand in line for an hour outside. Inside, there was more waiting and general confusion and misinformation. There was one non-partisan election lawyer at my location — I said, “It seems like a mad house in here.” He said, “You should see things downtown.”

It was the tenth or eleventh time I’ve voted at that polling place, and this was by far the hardest.

That said, if one looks at the scale of things that are difficult in life, getting into law school is a “1,” getting a job after law school is a “10,” and voting is, at most, a “4.” You can do it. It’s harder than it should be, but it’s not that hard. If you are reasonably intelligent and have a modicum of patience, you can figure it out.

Of course, if you are old or a dumb ass, things might not go so well….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Difference Between Voter Suppression And Voter Duress”

* Everyone’s happy about the Dewey & LeBoeuf settlement except the Ad Hoc Committee and its LeBoeuf retirees, who called Judge Martin Glenn’s attempt to slap them down an “insult to injury.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* While South Carolina’s voter ID law wasn’t found to be inherently discriminatory, its enforcement was still blocked because people will be unable to get their sh*t together in time for the election. [Bloomberg]

* VP debate moderator Martha Raddatz’s 1991 wedding guest list has come under fire because Barack Obama was invited. Clearly there’s a conflict of interest worth arguing about here. [Washington Post]

* This man is nobody’s “butt boy”: Tom Keefe, the interim dean over at Saint Louis Law School, will be footing a $14,212 bill for his students in the form of ABA Law Student Division memberships. [National Law Journal]

* Strippers in California, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, and Nevada will be making it rain, because they just scored a $12.9M class action settlement. That’s a whole lot of “college tuition”! [Courthouse News Service]

* Will the members of the Supreme Court announce which gay marriage issues they’ll be hearing this term any time soon? With Proposition 8 appeal and several DOMA appeals on hand, there’s certainly a lot for them to choose from. [CNN]

* It’s beginning to look a lot like Biglaw, everywhere you go: lawyers are miserable, clients are unhappy, and apparently profits per partner are all to blame. Gee, thanks for those rankings, Am Law, they were really helpful. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Instead of arguing over font size, the Department of Justice argued law yesterday during closing arguments in its attempts to convince a three-judge panel to strike down South Carolina’s voter ID statute. [National Law Journal]

* Unlike Elizabeth Warren, he’s no “Fauxcahontas”: Kevin Washburn, the dean of the University of New Mexico Law School, has been confirmed by the Senate to oversee the Bureau of Indian Affairs. [Washington Post]

* If you’re going to allegedly slash someone’s face in an attempt to defend your honor, at least do it with class like this Columbia Law grad, and use a broken champagne flute as your weapon of choice. [New York Post]

How festive!

* You can kiss your dreams of seeing Prop 8 being taken up by the Supreme Court goodbye if the justices decide to proceed with “more cautious DOMA challenges.” [Slate]

* Well, at least one person is getting annoyed by the endless back and forth between Posner and Scalia. But that’s just one person. We’ll continue to beat that horse until it’s extra dead. [Althouse]

* Is this like the new WebMD, but for law? With prompts like, “Can that crazy neighbor buy a gun?,” it looks like a suitable place for legal hypochondriacs to call home. [myRight]

* Oh yay, I don’t like to get into election law and politics, so it’s a good thing that The Simpsons did all my work for me on this one: “Stopping all Americans from voting is for the protection of all Americans.” [PrawfsBlawg]

* Kat over at Corporette wants to know what your top five tailoring alterations are — because after all, it’s pretty hard to dress for success in Biglaw if your pants are dragging on the floor. [Corporette]

* You’d have to be super-dee-duper high to think that disguising your pot plants as Christmas trees in the middle of the desert to throw the police off your tracks would actually work. [Legally Weird / FindLaw]

Page 1 of 212