Easterbrook Knocks Harvard Law Review

October 6th, 2014

In the 7th Circuit opinion rejecting the challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, Judge Easterbrook scoffs at a study by Nate Persily and Stephen Ansolabehere in (of all places) the Harvard Law Review, as it is not peer-reviewed:

Wisconsin-­‐‑specific findings do matter to some issues; if the burden of getting a photo ID in Wisconsin were material-­‐‑ ly greater than the burden in Indiana, then Wisconsin’s law could indeed be invalid while Indiana’s stands. But no one suggests that photo ID laws promote confidence in Indiana but not Wisconsin; the district court’s finding concerns the nation as a whole. (The political scientist who testified at tri-­‐‑ al relied not on his own work, or even on work in a refereed scholarly journal, but on Stephen Ansolabehere & Nathaniel Persily, Vote Fraud in the Eye of the Beholder: The Role of Public Opinion in the Challenge to Voter Identification Requirements, 121 Harv. L. Rev. 1737 (2008), which reported the results of one opinion poll of people living throughout the country.)

Rick Hasen calls it “unreal.” He adds:

As a matter of substance, this is vintage Judge Easterbrook: crisp writing but heartless and dismissive. Judge Easterbrook picks out the evidence from the record he likes, and dismisses the evidence he does not like. The Ansolabehere and Persily study finding no relationship between voter id laws and public confidence is dismissed because it was not peer reviewed. This is some of the most careful work out there, and just because it was published in the Harvard Law Review Judge Easterbook decides to dismiss it out of hand.