I’m on record as not being a fan of the Voter I.D. bill and I agree with DOJ that it is discriminatory and not only will it prevent people from voting but in fact is intended to prevent people from voting – most of whom are poor or members of ethnic minority groups. That said, I don’t see how DOJ’s “rejection” of the law is constitutionally proper. It violates separation of powers. The executive branch cannot strike down a state statute. Only the courts can do that. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Indiana’s requirement of a photo identification to be constitutional, although the decision was only a plurality opinion. The main reason why Indiana’s law passed constitutional muster is that Indiana provides free photo I.D.s to its citizens. See Crawford v. Marion County Election Board 551 U.S. 181.
It seems to me that DOJ is really stretching the Voting Rights Act to include Voter I.D. laws. Surely DOJ should be required to provide proof that the result of such laws is discriminatory before rejecting them (which I don’t believe they have the authority to do anyway). As bad as the Texas Voter I.D. law is, and it is really restrictive, and deliberately so, my belief is that DOJ has no power to strike it down. This is a huge overreach by DOJ, and one that I am certain will be slapped down by the U.S. Supreme Court, when and if the issue comes before it.