A Wisconsin federal judge today struck down as unconstitutional that state’s voter-ID law, ruling that the appearance of voter fraud, just like the appearance of political corruption, can’t justify impeding the First Amendment right to vote.
In a close and insightful reading of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon, reproduced here with his permission from the election law listserv, Marty Lederman has called attention to this first paragraph:
“There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. Citizens can exercise that right in a variety of ways: They can run for office themselves, vote, urge others to vote for a particular candidate, volunteer to work on a campaign, and contribute to a candidate’s campaign. This case is about the last of those options.”
— Former Obama White House Counsel and eminent Washington election-law attorney Bob Bauer, on his blog moresoftmoneyhardlaw.com, Apr. 24
Bauer sums up:
While disclaiming “naiveté” about the Roberts Court’s commitment to the interests of voters, Marty asserts that if “taken seriously,” this freshly minted right to participate could “be the source of a new flourishing of voting rights and other election-related rights.”
Eminent and esteemed though they are, Bauer and Lederman are late to a party. Specifically, my party. On Apr. 3, a day after McCutcheon was issued, I pointed out right here on this popular and acclaimed blog what “the REAL news from the McCutcheon opinion” is:
“There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.” That’s how Roberts began the opinion.
So I guess we can now assume that the Court will strike down all those voter-ID laws that so clearly impact that most basic of rights, and will do so by unanimous vote of the justices.