Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Supreme Court has to grow a few

 Judge Haller says it's judicial restraint, a Court giving great deference to the state legislature, but to Buzz and me, it's a lack of chutzpah. C'mon call a spade a spade, or as we said in our last column, call a duck a duck.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court punted the Pennsylvania Voter ID law back to the Commonwealth Court. Justices Debra Todd and Seamus McCaffrey at least had the brass to call it like it is.  They would have thrown out the law for what it is --- a partisan political ploy to disenfranchise Democratic leaning voters.

McCaffrey was animated at the oral argument and was eloquent in his support of the right to vote by all citizens, regardless of the size of their wallet.

"I was elected by the people of our Commonwealth, by Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others, as was every single Justice on this esteemed Court," McCaffrey wrote.   "I cannot now be a party to the potential disenfranchisement of even one otherwise qualified elector, including potentially many elderly and possibly disabled veterans who fought for the rights of every American to exercise their fundamental American right to vote."

"While I have no argument with the requirement that all Pennsylvania voters, at some reasonable point in the future, will have to present photo identification before they may cast their ballots, it is clear to me the reason for the urgency of implementing Act 18 prior to the November 2012 election is purely political.  That has been made abundantly clear by the House Majority Leader.  I cannot in good conscience participate in a decision that so clearly has the effect of allowing politics to trump the solemn oath that I swore to uphold our Constitution.  That Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be trampled by partisan politics," McCaffrey concluded.

This law, like many of others passed by GOP controlled legislatures across the country, is a blatant attempt to stop Democratic leaning voters from voting.  IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PROTECTING THE INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS.  The Commonwealth admitted this when it stipulated that in person voter fraud doesn't exist, and they didn't see it occurring in the future.

Elections should be decided by a vigorous discussion of the ideas and getting as many voters as possible to the polls.  It should not be decided by keeping voters who disagree with you away from the polls.

We should make voting as easy as possible.  Instead of passing laws that restrict voting, the legislature should be passing laws that expand voting --- like early voting, same day registration, and other laws that increase voter participation.

Throughout our nation's history we have expanded the franchise to African-American citizens, to women, to 18 year olds.  Since when did it become the vogue to start restricting the franchise?  Perhaps when political consultants realized that certain groups can be kept away.

The right to vote is sacred.  It is our way to change the direction of the country, to change the laws, to make things better.  Let's stop playing games with the precious right for which so many of our forefathers gave their lives.

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