Justice Ginsburg Tells Nina Totenberg About 5 AM Texas Voter ID Decision

From this event at the 92nd Street Y [my transcription, and there could be errors]:

Nina Totenberg: Justice Ginsburg, you were up until … Friday night/Saturday morning, writing a passionate dissent in the Texas voter id case. Just to let people in the audience know, this was a procedural question in some measure. And you can note a dissent in those kinds of cases and not write and it is fairly common for that to happen. But you wrote; you were joined by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. So why did you write and why did it take until 5 in the morning?

Justice Ginsburg: Why till 5 in the morning? We didn’t get the last filing from Texas until Friday morning and then the Circuit Justice [Justice Scalia in this case—Ed.] as you know has to write a memo. And that came around some time in the middle of the afternoon. So there wasn’t much time to write the dissent. I had written a dissent in the North Carolina voting case, voting rights case. This one was… I would say it was very well-reasoned. You called it passionate.

Nina Totenberg: The point you were making…to explain a fact of law here is that in 2006 the Supreme Court issued a decision that basically said we try not to disturb what’s going on in an election right before an election because people will get confused. And you said you did not think that applied here. Why?

First this case was unlike others because it had gone through a complete 9 day trial, reams of evidence, and an excellent decision written by the district court. This was a new system for Texas. From 2003-2013, they have a voter id that was reasonable. There were many things you could present. The new law cut back drastically on that. There had never been a federal election held under the new law. There had been local elections with very small turnout. So the poll watchers [workers?-Ed] were more familiar with old procedur. So I didn’t think this case fell into the mold of we can’t disturb an election. There had been very little in the way of educational efforts, so that people knew what the new law required, so that the poll watchers would know. So I thought that the old system would involve less disruption than this never-done-in-a-federal-election-before [system].

You can read my Slate piece about this decision and Justice Ginsburg’s dissent.

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