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.