Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd. Indiana Democratic Party, Nos. 07–21

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice STEVENS announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Justice KENNEDY join.
Citation553 U.S. 181,2008 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5979,76 USLW 4242,170 L.Ed.2d 574,08 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4913,21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 198,128 S.Ct. 1610
Decision Date28 April 2008
Docket NumberNos. 07–21,07–25.
PartiesWilliam CRAWFORD et al., Petitioners, v. MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD et al.Indiana Democratic Party, et al., Petitioners, v. Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State, et al.

08 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4913
128 S.Ct. 1610
170 L.Ed.2d 574
2008 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5979
21 Fla.
L. Weekly Fed. S 198
553 U.S. 181
76 USLW 4242

William CRAWFORD et al., Petitioners,
v.
MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD et al.Indiana Democratic Party, et al., Petitioners,
v.
Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State, et al.

Nos. 07–21

07–25.

Supreme Court of the United States

April 28, 2008.Argued Jan. 9, 2008.Decided April 28, 2008.


[128 S.Ct. 1611]

[553 U.S. 181]

Syllabus *

After Indiana enacted an election law (SEA 483) requiring citizens voting in person to present government-issued photo identification, petitioners filed separate suits challenging the law's constitutionality. Following discovery, the District Court granted respondents summary judgment, finding the evidence in the record insufficient to support a facial attack on the statute's validity. In affirming, the Seventh Circuit declined to judge the law by the strict standard set for poll taxes in Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 86 S.Ct. 1079, 16 L.Ed.2d 169, finding the burden on voters offset by the benefit of reducing the risk of fraud.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

472 F.3d 949, affirmed.

Justice STEVENS, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Justice KENNEDY, concluded that the evidence in the record does not support a facial attack on SEA 483's validity. Pp. 1615 – 1624.

(a) Under Harper, even rational restrictions on the right to vote are invidious if they are unrelated to voter qualifications. However, “even handed restrictions” protecting the “integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself” satisfy Harper's standard. Anderson v. Celebrezze, 460 U.S. 780, 788, n. 9, 103 S.Ct. 1564, 75 L.Ed.2d 547. A state law's burden on a political party, an individual voter, or a discrete class of voters must be justified by relevant and legitimate state interests “sufficiently weighty to justify the limitation.” Norman v. Reed, 502 U.S. 279, 288–289, 112 S.Ct. 698, 116 L.Ed.2d 711. Pp. 1615 – 1617.

(b) Each of Indiana's asserted interests is unquestionably relevant to its interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process. The first is the interest in deterring and detecting voter fraud. Indiana has a valid interest in participating in a nationwide effort to improve and modernize election procedures criticized as antiquated and inefficient. Indiana also claims a particular interest in preventing voter fraud in response to the problem of voter registration rolls with a large number of names of persons who are either deceased or no longer live in Indiana. While the record contains no evidence

[553 U.S. 182]

that the fraud SEA 483 addresses—in-person voter impersonation at polling places—has actually occurred in Indiana, such fraud has occurred in other parts of the country, and Indiana's own experience with voter fraud in a 2003 mayoral[128 S.Ct. 1612] primary demonstrates a real risk that voter fraud could affect a close election's outcome. There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a State's interest in counting only eligible voters' votes. Finally, Indiana's interest in protecting public confidence in elections, while closely related to its interest in preventing voter fraud, has independent significance, because such confidence encourages citizen participation in the democratic process. Pp. 1617 – 1620.

(c) The relevant burdens here are those imposed on eligible voters who lack photo identification cards that comply with SEA 483. Because Indiana's cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters' right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons— e.g., elderly persons born out of state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk's office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners' right to the relief they seek. Pp. 1620 – 1623.

(d) Petitioners bear a heavy burden of persuasion in seeking to invalidate SEA 483 in all its applications. This Court's reasoning in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 552 U.S. 442, 128 S.Ct. 1184, 170 L.Ed.2d 151 applies with added force here. Petitioners argue that Indiana's interests do not justify the burden imposed on voters who cannot afford or obtain a birth certificate and who must make a second trip to the circuit court clerk's office, but it is not possible to quantify, based on the evidence in the record, either that burden's magnitude or the portion of the burden that is fully justified. A facial challenge must fail where the statute has a “ ‘plainly legitimate sweep.’ ” Id., at ––––, 128 S.Ct., at 1190. When considering SEA 483's broad application to all Indiana voters, it “imposes only a limited burden on voters' rights.” Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 439, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245. The “precise interests” advanced by Indiana are therefore sufficient to defeat petitioners' facial challenge. Id., at 434, 112 S.Ct. 2059. Pp. 1623 – 1624.

(e) Valid neutral justifications for a nondiscriminatory law, such as SEA 483, should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators. Pp. 1623 – 1624.

[553 U.S. 183]

Justice SCALIA, joined by Justice THOMAS and Justice ALITO, was of the view that petitioners' premise that the voter-identification law might have imposed a special burden on some voters is irrelevant. The law should be upheld because its overall burden is minimal and justified. A law respecting the right to vote should be evaluated under the approach in Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245, which calls for application of a deferential, “important regulatory interests” standard for nonsevere, nondiscriminatory restrictions, reserving strict scrutiny for laws that severely restrict the right to vote, id., at 433–434, 112 S.Ct. 2059. The different ways in which Indiana's law affects different voters are no more than different impacts of the single burden that the law uniformly imposes on all voters: To vote in person, everyone must have and present a photo identification that can be obtained for free. This is [128 S.Ct. 1613] a generally applicable, nondiscriminatory voting regulation. The law's universally applicable requirements are eminently reasonable because the burden of acquiring, possessing, and showing a free photo identification is not a significant increase over the usual voting burdens, and the State's stated interests are sufficient to sustain that minimal burden. Pp. 1613 – 1616.

STEVENS, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined. SOUTER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Paul M. Smith, for Petitioners.

Thomas M. Fisher, for Respondents.

Paul D. Clement, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the Respondents.Kenneth J. Falk, Jacquelyn Bowie Suess, Gavin M. Rose, Indianapolis, IN, Laughlin McDonald, Neil T. Bradley, Atlanta, GA, Steven R. Shapiro, New York, NY, Pamela S. Karlan, Jeffrey L. Fisher, Stanford, CA, for Petitioners.Angela Ciccolo, Victor L. Goode, Assistant General Counsel, Baltimore, MD, for Petitioner Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP.James B. Osborn, Indianapolis, IN, Jon Laramore, Baker and Daniels, Indianapolis, IN, for Respondent, Marion County Election Board.Steve Carter, Attorney General, Thomas M. Fisher, Solicitor General, Julie A. Brubaker, Heather L. Hagan, Deputy Attorneys General, for State Respondents.William R. Groth, Geoffrey S. Lohman, Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe, Indianapolis, IN, Joseph E. Sandler, Sandler Reiff & Young PC, Washington, DC, Paul M. Smith, Sam Hirsch, Jessica Ring Amunson, Carrie F. Apfel, Sharmila Sohoni Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, DC, Luke P. McLoughlin, Jenner & Block LLP, New York NY, for Petitioners.Justice STEVENS announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Justice KENNEDY join.

[553 U.S. 185]

At issue in these cases is the constitutionality of an Indiana statute requiring citizens voting in person on election day, or casting a ballot in person at the office of the circuit court clerk prior to election day, to present photo identification issued by the government.

Referred to as either the “Voter ID Law” or “SEA 483,” 1 the statute applies to in-person voting at both primary and general elections. The requirement does not apply to absentee

[553 U.S. 186]

ballots submitted by mail, and the statute contains an exception for persons living and voting in a state-licensed facility such as a nursing home. Ind.Code Ann. § 3–11–8–25.1(e) (West Supp.2007). A voter who is indigent or has a religious objection to being photographed may cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only if she executes an appropriate affidavit before the circuit court clerk within 10 days following the [128 S.Ct. 1614] election. §§ 3–11.7–5–1, 3–11.7–5–2.5(c) (West 2006). 2 A voter who has photo identification but is unable to present that identification on election day may file a provisional ballot that will be counted if she brings her photo identification to the circuit county clerk's office within 10 days. § 3–11.7–5–2.5(b). No photo identification is required in order to register to vote,...

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  • Bednasek v. Kobach, Case No. 15–9300–JAR–JPO
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • May 4, 2017
    ...that there is insufficient evidence to support a due process claim in this matter.51 See, e.g. , Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 190, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) ; Burdick v. Takushi , 504 U.S. 428, 438–39, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245 (1992) ; Anderson v.......
  • Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill, 2:15–cv–02193–LSC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 10, 2018
    ...2008, Indiana's photo ID law was challenged, and it was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008). The next year, the Eleventh Circuit upheld Georgia's photo ID law. Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups ......
  • Jones v. Governor of Fla., No. 20-12003
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • September 11, 2020
    ...even if some voters must pay to comply with the requirement. See Gonzalez , 677 F.3d at 409 ; Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 189, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) (plurality opinion) (explaining that Harper invalidates voting restrictions that "are unrelated to ......
  • Green Party of Ga. v. Kemp, Civil Action No. 1:12–CV–01822–RWS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • May 19, 2015
    ..."severe." Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 434, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245 (1992) ; see also Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181, 204, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) ("To evaluate a law respecting the right to vote—whether it governs voter qualifications, candi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
474 cases
  • Bednasek v. Kobach, Case No. 15–9300–JAR–JPO
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • May 4, 2017
    ...that there is insufficient evidence to support a due process claim in this matter.51 See, e.g. , Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 190, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) ; Burdick v. Takushi , 504 U.S. 428, 438–39, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245 (1992) ; Anderson v.......
  • Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill, 2:15–cv–02193–LSC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • January 10, 2018
    ...2008, Indiana's photo ID law was challenged, and it was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Crawford v. Marion Cty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008). The next year, the Eleventh Circuit upheld Georgia's photo ID law. Common Cause/Georgia v. Billups ......
  • Jones v. Governor of Fla., No. 20-12003
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • September 11, 2020
    ...even if some voters must pay to comply with the requirement. See Gonzalez , 677 F.3d at 409 ; Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd. , 553 U.S. 181, 189, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) (plurality opinion) (explaining that Harper invalidates voting restrictions that "are unrelated to ......
  • Green Party of Ga. v. Kemp, Civil Action No. 1:12–CV–01822–RWS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • May 19, 2015
    ..."severe." Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, 434, 112 S.Ct. 2059, 119 L.Ed.2d 245 (1992) ; see also Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181, 204, 128 S.Ct. 1610, 170 L.Ed.2d 574 (2008) ("To evaluate a law respecting the right to vote—whether it governs voter qualifications, candi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • 'IN WHOM IS THE RIGHT OF SUFFRAGE?': THE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS AS SOURCES OF CONSTITUTIONAL MEANING.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 169 Nbr. 7, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...voter turnout in the South renders the Voting Rights Act's preclearance requirement unnecessary), Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181, 195 (2008) (finding state voting restrictions justified based on general evidence of voter fraud nationally), and Schuette v. Coal, to Def. ......
  • Kansas Voter ID Laws
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 70-2, June 2017
    • June 1, 2017
    ...Miller, and Donald Stokes. 1980. The American Voter. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd. 553 U.S. 181 (2008).Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.Erikson, Robert S., and Lorraine C. Minnite. 2009. “Modeling......

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