While those opposed to the current Voter ID law in Pennsylvania are expressing measured pleasure at the state Supreme Court's ruling on the law, which was really no ruling at all, we find ourselves in agreement with two dissenting opinions written by Justices Debra Todd and Seamus McCaffrey.
Todd's speaks to our disappointment in the high court's avoidance of a clear ruling either way.
"Forty-nine days before a Presidential election, the question no longer is whether the commonwealth can constitutionally implement this law, but whether it has constitutionally implemented it. ... By remanding to the Commonwealth Court, at this late date, and at this most critical civic moment, in my view, this court abdicates its duty to emphatically decide a legal controversy vitally important to the citizens of this Commonwealth. The eyes of the nation are upon us, and this court has chosen to punt rather than to act. I will have no part of it."
By sending the issue back to the lower court with instructions to investigate the implementation of the law and determine whether the implementation satisfies the constitution, the court has, indeed, "punted." Both sides of the issue should be disappointed that the court wasted the electorate's time and wimped out on an important constitutional ruling.
McCaffrey addressed the clearly politically manipulative aspect of the current law, but, like us, is not opposed to a voter ID law in the long term.
"While I have no argument with the requirement that all Pennsylvania voters, at some reasonable point in the future, will have to present photo identification before they may cast their ballots, it is clear to me that the reason for the urgency of implementing Act 18 prior to the November 2012 election is purely political. .. (The) Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be trampled by partisan politics."
We expect more from the state's highest court, even if we don't expect it from the state General Assembly.