Judge Richard A. Posner, the judge who delivered the landmark decision that upheld voter ID laws in Indiana in 2007, has made legal history again. In his new book, Reflections on Judging, Judge Posner includes a single sentence admitting he made a mistake: “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID—a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.” Further extrapolating on his turnabout in an interview with HuffPost Live’s Mike Sacks, Judge Posner, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, blamed the lawyers for not giving “strong indications that requiring additional voter identification would actually disfranchise people entitled to vote.” Posner further defended himself by saying that even the more liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an opinion for the Supreme Court affirming Posner’s decision. Then Justice Stevens in an interview with the Wall Street Journal defended his decision in Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board and blamed the lawyers too.
The single sentence and brief webcast set off a firestorm of coverage and criticism, surprising Posner. The lawyers challenging the law defended their litigation strategy, Democrats criticized Posner for being sloppy in his ruling and Republicans criticized Posner for being sloppy with his mea culpa. The Washington Post’s Charles Lane criticized the judge for even speaking to the press or writing about the issue, arguing that it demeans the judiciary and is “corrosive” to the rule of law when judges explain their opinions in books and interviews: “I wish he’d keep his mouth shut.”
But I for one am glad Judge Posner spoke up candidly. Supporters of voter ID laws point to Crawford all the time as having settled the issue of voter ID laws’ constitutionality and desirability, and all the new discussion calls Crawford into rhetorical (although not legal) doubt. The really interesting question is: why did Judge Posner change his mind?
Full Article: Why Judge Posner Changed His Mind – The Daily Beast.