Circuit Judge Alice Gray
has a hearing this afternoon to consider Secretary of State Mark Martin's
request that he not be required to comply with the state Freedom of Information Act
in supplying the information sought in a lawsuit challenging the new state law requiring an ID to vote.
Jeff Priebe, attorney
in the challenge, wants to see what internal communications might reveal about voting procedures. Martin says he just doesn't have time to comply with the law.
The bigger issue comes Monday, a hearing before Judge Gray on a request for a preliminary injunction to stop use
of the ID law in the coming primary election.
Priebe was the lawyer in a successful challenge of an earlier voter ID law, held by the Arkansas Supreme Court to be a facial violation of the Arkansas Constitution's strict limits of what can be demanded of a voter — legal age, residency and
voter registration (which requires proof of identity to obtain). A new law aims to dodge that ruling by claiming the new law is a change in registration procedure, not voting requirements. But in the end, it still provides a new obstacle to voting. That should be held clearly unconstitutional, but the makeup of the Supreme Court has changed since the last ruling and not for the better.
Side note: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
is arguing that the lawsuit is barred by the new expanded interpretation of "sovereign immunity," the constitutional provision that the state may not be sued in its courts. If the sovereign immunity precedent overrides the constitution's rules on voting, it presumably overrides everything else. Would we need a court any more?
UPDATE: Judge Gray Thursday afternoon dismissed Martin's request for protective orders to delay production of materials requested by Priebe. As of late Thursday afternoon, however, the secretary of state's office still had not complied with Freedom of Information Act requests for relevant information. More on that to come.
Also noted: The team assembled by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
to fight the lawsuit includes a consumer protection division lawyer. Got that? Consumer protection means fighting to make it harder to vote.
Also, Rutledge's office is attempting to produce as evidence an affidavit from an Election Commission lawyer about Internet articles he's read about voter fraud. Even if these amounted to evidence — which they don't — they are irrelevant to the question of Constitutional interpretation of barriers to voting. But if you want some real evidence of tough Voter ID laws and their need, you need only look at the ****show
produced by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach
in lame defense of his vote suppression efforts in a lawsuit by the ACLU over a citizenship requirement. Kobach produced a claim of five improperly
registered voters who cast a total of 10 to 12 votes among 1.3 million cast over 15 years in Sedgwick County, Kansas.