published Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Tennessee AG says photo ID bill likely unconstitutional

NASHVILLE — In a just-released legal opinion, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper says courts would “likely” rule as unconstitutional a proposed law that requires voters to present qualified photo identification before casting their ballots.

The problem, Cooper says in his seven-page opinion, is the bill makes no provision for free government photo IDs, such as a driver’s license. Courts would probably interpret that as a “poll tax” that “unduly burdens” those who cannot afford such ID, Cooper wrote.

Cooper said it would probably violated the U.S. Constitution’s 24th Amendment with respect to federal elections and the Equal Protection Clause with regard to state and local elections.

In addition, he said, a state court would find it also violates the Tennessee Constitution because of a provision that confers protections similar to the Equal Protection Clause.

House and Senate Democratic leaders sought the opinion on the Republican-backed bill which passed the GOP-controlled Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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ibshame said...

Now let's see if they move forward with this bill anyway. Are they really that ignorant of history? Evidently for most of those right wingers in the legislature,they either slept through their Civics, American Government and History classes or they just skipped school altogether on those days when the teacher was covering Voting Rights.

If there was massive voter fraud in this state, out of caution there would be a necessity for the bill, but no such case has ever been uncovered. The only thing this bill is going to accomplish is a huge legal bill the taxpayers will be stuck paying. In the end this bill will go down in flames.

If this state wants to take the lead in bringing in new industries, why not spend time creating an environment that showcases our willingness to be innovative and move forward than one looking over our shoulders to the mistakes of the past.

April 13, 2011 at 2:31 p.m.
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