• Firm Plays Key Role in Defending Constitutionality of Indiana Election Law Challenged In U.S. Supreme Court
  • May 16, 2008
  • Law Firm: Lathrop & Gage LLP - Kansas City Office
  • The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed Indiana’s law requiring that a person provide photo ID before casting a ballot. The Associated Press called this case "the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute." Member Thor Hearne (Government Relations - St. Louis) and Associate Meghan S. Largent (Tort Litigation - St. Louis) led the firm's legal team in drafting two amicus curiae briefs supporting the Indiana Attorney General and Secretary of State. Crawford et al. v. Marion County Election Board et al., and Indiana Democratic Party et al. v. Rokita et al.

    In its ruling, the court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's photo ID requirement, agreeing with the firm's argument that the law was a legitimate exercise of Indiana’s compelling interest in preventing election fraud. Hearne authored one brief on behalf of the leadership of the United States Senate and U.S. House of Representatives (joined by almost 40 individual members of Congress) including Senators McConnell, Bennett and Bond and Congressmen Blunt, Smith and Ehlers. Hearne also authored a second amicus brief on behalf of Democrat and Republican Election Officials. This group included Bob Michael, former Minority Leader of the U.S. House and member of both the Carter-Baker and the Carter-Ford Commission on Federal Election Reform as well as five members of the Indiana Election Clerks Association (including the two Democrat and two Republican past presidents of the association) and the former Minnesota Secretary of State and past president of the national Secretaries of State Association. Hearne himself had served as academic-advisor to the Carter-Baker Commission. (To read the Carter-Baker Commission Report, please click here http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/.)

    All members of the Court (dissent as well as majority opinions) embraced the recommendations of the Carter-Baker Commission report and the points for which Hearne argued. Specifically, that election regulation should be reviewed under the "intermediate scrutiny" Burdick standard, as opposed to the "strict scrutiny" standard argued for by the opponents of Indiana Law, that states have a compelling interest adopting measures to safeguard the election process against election fraud, and that Photo ID laws are not an invidious partisan effort but are a reasonable effort to increase voter confidence in our election process.

    Hearne noted, “The Supreme Court affirmed the work of the Carter-Baker Commission and the bi-partisan recommendations of that Commission seeking to increase voter confidence in the fairness and honesty of American elections. Increased confidence in our election process should increase voter participation. It should be ‘Easy to Vote and Tough to Cheat’ and every eligible voter should be able to participate free of the fear that they will be disenfranchised by a vote fraud scheme.”