On November 13, 2007, a coalition of organizations including the Lawyers’ Committee submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in this litigation challenging Indiana’s photo identification requirement for voting on Election Day as violative of the constitutional right to vote. Other groups joining the brief were the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Common Cause, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the American Jewish Committee.
In their brief, the Lawyers’ Committee and its coalition partners argued that the Indiana photo ID requirement was (at that time) the most restrictive voter ID law in the Nation, and that it unnecessarily and unjustifiably abridged the right to vote. The photo ID law allowed only a limited set of IDs to be used for voting, and imposed material burdens on a significant number of otherwise-eligible voters. These burdens raised heightened concerns because they fell disproportionately on certain segments of the electorate, including less affluent and minority voters. Furthermore, the brief argued that the specific interest advanced in support of the requirement was markedly insubstantial because the law sought to prevent voter impersonation at the polls when no such fraud was occurring in Indiana.
The Supreme Court upheld the Indiana law on the ground that the evidence in the record failed to demonstrate the nature and scope of any burdens imposed by the photo ID requirement, and therefore the State’s generalized interest in combatting voter fraud and promoting confidence in the administration of elections was sufficient to support the law. 553 U.S. 81 (2008). The Court did not address whether the Indiana requirement was racially discriminatory since no such claim was before the Court.