Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law Struck Down

, The Legal Intelligencer


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Pennsylvania's law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is unconstitutional, a state court judge has ruled in striking down the controversial measure.

Six months after the second trial challenging the law, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley has entered a permanent injunction against its enforcement.

"Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal," McGinley said in his lengthy opinion, issued as not reported.

Since the Republican-led legislature passed the law, called Act 18, in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, it has yet to be fully enforced. Almost immediately after its passage, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with other public-interest legal organizations, brought a challenge to the law and it has remained in various states of suspension since then as the challenge to it volleyed between state courts.

The Corbett administration hasn't indicated whether or not it will appeal the decision.

"We continue to evaluate the opinion and will shortly determine whether post-trial motions are appropriate," said James D. Schultz, general counsel of the commonwealth, in a statement Friday.

The Office of General Counsel said it would have no immediate comment beyond that.

It is, however, widely expected that the Corbett administration will appeal McGinley's decision on the measure. Gov. Tom Corbett is a Republican; the measure has been widely criticized by Democrats.

McGinley explained he would assess the law's constitutionality, "anticipating appellate review."

"Reviewing the voter ID law on its face, it does not pass constitutional muster because there is no legal, non-burdensome provision of a compliant photo ID to all qualified electors," McGinley said.

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