Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Legislating from the Bench

Robert Simpson is yet one more example of why electing judges is a horrible idea. Simpson, elected as a Republican to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, initially upheld the legislation requiring voters to produce photo identification at the polls. The law, which passed without a single Democratic vote, had one aim: It's “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania,” said Mike Turzai, the Republican floor leader.

When Simpson’s decision was challenged in Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, lawyers could not produce a single instance of in-person voter fraud in the state. But they did show that the law disproportionately affected – indeed, appeared to be aimed at – four groups: the elderly, the poor, minorities and students. They have two things in common: they are less likely than others to have the required document and they are more likely to vote for Barack Obama.

The Supreme Court returned the case to Simpson, instructing him to account for its practical impact at the polls. Yesterday Simpson delayed implementation of the law in a decision in which he, unlike King Solomon, actually tried to cut the baby in half.

Poll workers, said the judge, have every right to ask for the identification, but if you don’t have it, you can still vote. Out with fraud, in with intimidation, which has a far uglier history in American politics. How can someone demand to see something that has no bearing on my right to vote? What’s next – a poll tax that is refundable when I produce the required papers?

Either the law is valid or it is wrong. This law is wrong.

The Gentleman from Massachusetts

Of Human Life