Told You So: Justice Stevens Rehabilitates His Opinion in Marion County Case

October 17th, 2013

This morning I questioned when Justice Stevens would back away from his opinion in the Supreme Court’s Voter ID case. I wrote, “Will Justice Stevens opine that either his opinion was wrong, or that he didn’t have enough facts to fully appreciate the consequences of the law?”

Told you so. Didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

From an interview with Jess Bravin, Justice Stevens takes the latter approach, and blames the lawyers for not offering enough evidence to show suppression of minority voters:

In an interview this week, Justice Stevens said he isn’t “a fan of voter ID” and wasn’t in 2008. But he said his opinion was correct because the challengers failed to present enough evidence showing the requirement suppressed poor and minority voters. “My opinion should not be taken as authority that voter-ID laws are always OK,” Justice Stevens said. “The decision in the case is state-specific and record-specific.”

“I have always thought that David Souter [who dissented] got the thing correct, but my own problem with the case was that I didn’t think the record supported everything he said in his opinion,” said Justice Stevens, who retired in 2010. “He got a lot of stuff off the Internet and inferred things and so forth.” But “as a matter of actual history, he’s dead right. The impact of the statute is much more serious” on poor, minority, disabled and elderly voters than evidence in the 2008 case demonstrated, he said.

We can’t have judges getting stuff “the internet,” right? Ahem.

I included  comments from some of the lawyers who argued the case that ample evidence was placed in the record to show an impact on minorities. I would add this post by Paul Smith who argued the case before the Supreme Court. The complete record is available here.