Why a liberal justice voted for voter ID
Having seen vote fraud up close and personally in the system that spawned Barak Obama, Justices Stevens found that the inconvenience for a few of having to show an ID was worth to get a fair election. The only reason to oppose this legislation was to facilitate fraud. The same peopel who go to great lengths to register people can also at the same time make sure they have an ID. It is just not that hard.
In ruling on the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law – the toughest in the nation – the Supreme Court had to deal with the claim that such laws demanded the strictest of scrutiny by courts, because they could disenfranchise voters. All nine Justices rejected that argument.
Even Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the three dissenters who would have overturned the Indiana law, wrote approvingly of the less severe ID laws of Georgia and Florida. The result is that state voter ID laws are now highly likely to pass constitutional muster.
But this case, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, also revealed a fundamental philosophical conflict between two perspectives rooted in the machine politics of Chicago. Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the decision, grew up in Hyde Park, the city neighborhood where Sen. Barack Obama – the most vociferous Congressional critic of such laws – lives now. Both men have seen how the Daley machine has governed the city for so many years, with a mix of patronage, contract favoritism and, where necessary, voter fraud.
That fraud became nationally famous in 1960, when the late Mayor Richard J. Daley's extraordinary efforts swung Illinois into John F. Kennedy's column. In 1982, inspectors estimated as many as one in 10 ballots cast in Chicago during that year's race for governor to be fraudulent for various reasons, including votes by the dead.
Mr. Stevens witnessed all of this as a lawyer, special counsel to a commission rooting out corruption in state government, and as a judge. On the Supreme Court, this experience has made him very mindful of these abuses. In 1987, the high court vacated the conviction of a Chicago judge who'd used the mails to extort money. He wrote a stinging dissent, taking the rare step of reading it from the bench. The majority opinion, he noted, could rule out prosecutions of elected officials and their workers for using the mails to commit voter fraud.
Three years later, Justice Stevens ordered Cook County officials to stop printing ballots that excluded a slate of black candidates who were challenging the Daley machine. The full court later ordered the black candidates back on the ballot.