Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

PETITIONER: William Crawford et al.
RESPONDENT: Marion County Election Board et al.
LOCATION: Earthquake Park

DOCKET NO.: 07-21
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 553 US 181 (2008)
GRANTED: Sep 25, 2007
ARGUED: Jan 09, 2008
DECIDED: Apr 28, 2008

ADVOCATES:
Paul D. Clement - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the Respondents
Paul M. Smith - on behalf of the Petitioners
Thomas M. Fisher - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case

In 2005, the Indiana Legislature passed a law requiring all voters who cast a ballot in person to present a photo ID issued by the United States or the State of Indiana. Plaintiffs including the local Democratic Party and interest groups representing minority and elderly citizens argued that the law constituted an undue burden on the right to vote. At trial, the plaintiffs did not produce any witnesses who claimed they would be unable to meet the law's requirements. The district court and the court of appeals both upheld the law. However, the three-judge appellate panel was deeply divided. Dissenting Judge Terrence Evans claimed that the law was a thinly-veiled attempt to dampen turnout by those likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

Question

Does a law that requires voters to present either a state or federal photo identification unduly burden citizens' right to vote?

Media for Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 28, 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board

John Paul Stevens:

These three cases come to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The cases concerned Indiana's Voter Identification Law passed in 2005 that requires Indiana voters to present government-issued photo identification before voting.

Promptly, after the law's enactment, petitioners filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, seeking to enjoin election officials from enforcing the law.

Petitioners argued that the Voter ID law unconstitutionally burdens Indiana citizens' right to hold under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Specifically, they claimed that Indiana's interest in enacting such a law to combat in-person fraudulent voting, did not justify the burdens of Voter ID law imposed on voters who did not already have acceptable photo identification.

The District Court rejected petitioners' arguments and granted summary judgment for the election officials.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed both the opinion of the District Court and the Seventh Circuit's opinion noted the absence of any plaintiffs who claimed that the law would deter them from voting.

We granted certiorari because of the importance of these cases to voting laws throughout the country and we now affirm.

In the opinion that I have authored through which is joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy, we hold that the petitioners' evidence is not sufficient to support a facial attack on the validity of Indiana's Voter ID Law.

Indiana's interest in preventing voter fraud in safeguarding public confidence in elections are legitimate and weighty and petitioners have failed to prove an excessive burden on any class of voters because petitioners advanced a broad attack on the constitutionality of the Voter ID law and seek to invalidate in its entirety, they bearing a specially heavy burden of persuasion.

For further -- for reasons further elaborated in our opinion, they have not met that burden.

Justice Scalia has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which Justice Thomas and Justice Alito has joined.

Justice Souter has filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Ginsburg has joined.

And Justice Breyer has also filed a dissenting opinion.