Pennsylvania: Fate of voter ID law rests in the hands of 6 state Supreme Court justices |

Millions of Pennsylvanians will cast ballots in the November election, but six votes could carry the most weight. Six justices on the state’s Supreme Court stand to play a bigger role in determining the outcome of this year’s elections in Pennsylvania than any other voter. The fate of the state’s voter ID law now rests in their hands. The justices are being asked to decide if voters must show a valid photo identification to cast a ballot. Critics say it could deprive people of the right to vote, particularly members of minority groups, seniors and the poor. Supporters say the law is a common-sense measure to ensure the integrity of elections. It’s one of the more prominent cases ever to reach the state’s highest court. Regardless of how the justices rule, their decision will be seen as affecting more than the vote in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Challengers of Pennsylvania voter photo ID law file appeal | AP

Strategies will shift as the first court battle over Pennsylvania’s new law requiring voters to show valid photo identification heads to the state Supreme Court, while other legal hurdles could surface and political campaigns lumber toward the November election.
The law’s Republican backers and, they say, the integrity of the Nov. 6 presidential election were the winners of Wednesday’s decision by a state appellate judge to reject an injunction that would have halted the law from taking effect in November, as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality. About a dozen rights groups and registered voters filed an appeal Thursday. Democrats say the law will trample the right to vote for countless people in an echo of the now-unconstitutional poll taxes and literacy tests once designed to discriminate against poor and minority voters. The GOP-penned law, signed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in March and opposed by every Democratic lawmaker, has ignited a furious debate over voting rights in Pennsylvania, which is poised to play a starring role in deciding the presidential contest.
Lawyers are asking the state’s highest court for a speedy review of the appeal, requesting that oral arguments be scheduled during the court’s session in Philadelphia the week of Sept. 10.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID appeal likely to be heard quickly by state Supreme Court – High court could split appeal, 3-3 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An expected appeal of the state’s voter ID law to the commonwealth’s shorthanded Supreme Court could result in a deadlocked ruling along political party lines. The state’s top appellate court typically has seven members, but has been one shy since the suspension of Republican Joan Orie Melvin due to her pending criminal charges. The remaining six justices are split evenly with three Democrats and three Republicans. A majority of at least four justices would be required to overturn the Commonwealth Court decision to uphold the law. Following Wednesday’s ruling from Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, on the Republican-driven proposal, as well as a recent comment from a top House Republican that the law would “allow” the GOP presidential nominee to win Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats said Wednesday that a partisan outcome would be “particularly disturbing.”

Pennsylvania: Judge won’t halt Pennsylvania voter identification law | The Associated Press

A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday refused to stop a tough new voter identification law from going into effect, which Democrats say will suppress votes among President Barack Obama’s supporters. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he wouldn’t grant an injunction that would have halted the law requiring each voter to show a valid photo ID. Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 presidential election looms. The Republican-penned law — which passed over the objections of Democrats — has ignited a furious debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in deciding the presidential contest in November. Opponents had asked Simpson to block the law from taking effect in this year’s election as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality.
Republicans defend the law as necessary to protect the integrity of the election. But Democrats say the law will make it harder for the elderly, minorities, the poor and college students to vote, as part of a partisan scheme to help the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, beat Democratic Obama.

Editorials: Pennsylvania Voter ID case: A chief justice’s time to eschew partisanship? | Philadelphia Inquirer

Picture this: A conservative Republican chief justice is called upon to decide the fate of one of the most partisan issues of our time, and, surprisingly comes down on the Democratic side. Health care and John Roberts? Actually, I was thinking of voter ID and Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ron Castille. There is a plausible scenario whereby he will cast the deciding vote regarding the controversial new law. And while his brethren might rule along party lines, Castille has a history of flexing his independence. With the testimony concluded in the challenge to the state’s voter-ID law, a decision is soon expected from Judge Robert Simpson of Commonwealth Court. Regardless of what he decides, this matter is destined for the state Supreme Court, which currently consists of six, rather than the customary seven, members. Republican Justice Joan Orie Melvin was recently suspended after being criminally charged, leaving the court with three Republicans and three Democrats, and Castille in a position of power. As goes the state Supreme Court, so will go the law. It’s doubtful that any effort to put this before the federal judiciary will be successful, as this challenge is predicated upon the commonwealth’s constitution.