South Carolina’s attorney general is asking a three-judge panel in Washington to reverse a Justice Department decision blocking the state’s new voter ID law. Obama administration officials said the state law would discriminate against African-American voters. In court papers filed on Wednesday, Washington lawyer Paul Clement and state Attorney General Alan Wilson requested that a three-judge panel be appointed to decide whether South Carolina’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The litigation sets up another election-year flashpoint between the Obama administration and state governments over the balance of federal-state power.
Among the suits:
• An ongoing battle over newly drawn congressional districts in Texas.
• A US Supreme Court appeal involving a state immigration law in Arizona.
• The 26-state Supreme Court challenge to the president’s health-care reform law.
The same lawyer, former US Solicitor General Clement, is involved in all of these cases. Fifteen states have enacted laws requiring voters to show photo ID prior to casting a ballot. South Carolina’s ID law was enacted last year. It requires prospective voters to present a driver’s license or some other form of government-issued photo identification before being permitted to cast a ballot. The measure requires the state to provide registered voters, upon request, with a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued photo ID free of charge. Opponents of the measure say the new photo requirement would cause an inordinate hardship on minority voters and potentially erode the political clout of African-Americans in South Carolina.