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Crawford v. Marion County Election Board and the Future of Supreme Court Jurisprudence Concerning the Regulation of Elections

By Charles H. Bell Jr.
November 07, 2008
Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd. assumes an important place in election law jurisprudence, not only because it is the Supreme Court’s most recent review of election laws, but also because the case had been singled out by many academic and non-academic commentators before it was decided as a kind of sequel to Bush v. Gore—a litmus test of the current partisan divisions on the federal high court. A number of these commentators attacked the alleged partiality of the lower federal courts previously deciding the matter by emphasizing that the district court judge upholding the law was appointed by a Republican President, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel affi rming the district court’s decision was divided along partisan lines, and the subsequent full-circuit court decision denying en banc review of the panel’s affi rmation was likewise divided. Additional evidence of alleged partisan judging on the issue of voter photo identifi cation laws was found in the 5-2 split decision of the Michigan Supreme Court, in which the court found the state’s identifi cation law valid—with all of the Republican justices upholding the requirement and both of the Democratic justices fi nding it unconstitutional. The subtext of this commentary was that the Indiana photo voter identifi cation statute should be invalidated by the Republicanappointed majority of the Supreme Court to demonstrate the independence and impartiality of the judicial branch of government...