On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to reassess how easy it is for the voting public to obtain ID that is compliant with the state’s voter ID law. If the lower court concludes that IDs are difficult to obtain or that disenfranchisement will result from implementation of the law, then the law should be struck down. Otherwise, the law can move forward as planned. The Supreme Court has asked for a ruling by Oct. 2.
The court issued the order in a 4-2 decision citing the problem as one of distribution. The justices were concerned that they could not accurately assess the matter because they did not have the necessary information concerning the accessibility and availability of secure, non-driver photo ID cards. “Thus, we will return the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available.”
The law has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since it was signed back in March. Nearly every major news outlet has covered the court’s decision, including the Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Patriot-News. Tuesday’s decision from the Supreme Court has also drawn criticism. Editorials in the Patriot-News and the Philadelphia Daily News have labeled the decision a “punt” by the court. Perhaps the greatest criticism came from none other than the two dissenting justices, Justice Debra McCloskey Todd and Justice Seamus P. McCaffery.