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Friday Round-up

A three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously struck down a state voter ID law previously upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008). According to the New York Times, the Indiana Court found that the voter ID law “violated the state’s equal protection guarantee because it did not require mail-in voters and residents of nursing homes to provide state-approved identification.” Because of the conservative nature of the current Supreme Court, Professor Michael J. Pitts believes that the state courts might be ‘“more amenable to these kinds of lawsuits than the federal courts,”’ and that state courts are more likely to be where the ‘“battles are going to be played out.”’

Today, The Sacramento Bee reports, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to file a court-mandated plan to address overcrowding in California prisons.  Last month, a three-judge panel of federal judges ordered the state to reduce its prison population by 40,000 over the next two years.  This order was in response to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of prison overcrowding due to its impact on medical and mental health care of inmates. The Governor’s plan is expected to fall significantly short of the court mandate. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, any appeal of the three-judge court’s decision goes directly to the Supreme Court, which has “strongly suggested” it will take the case following the panel’s final ruling.

The BLT previews Senator Edward Kennedy’s upcoming memoir, focusing on the late Senator’s criticism of Chief Justice Rehnquist and his regret at not having been more aggressive in opposing the Rehnquist nomination. Kennedy felt that allegations of Rehnquist’s involvement in voter intimidation (as an attorney for the Arizona Republican Party), plus other race-related accusations against Rehnquist, should have been enough to sink the nomination. At the time, Kennedy states, “‘No revelation of insensitivity on issues of race or violations of civil liberties seemed to resonate or stir opposition to Rehnquist.’”

On the Wall Street Journal Opinion page, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey challenge the constitutionality of mandatory health insurance.  While the mandate may be a political necessity for the passage of health care reform, Rivkin and Casey argue that its inclusion in a bill would be an unconstitutional overstep of Congress’s power, and that it would face strong judicial challenges.

Justice Scalia, in an interview with an Orthodox Jewish newspaper, Hamodia, discusses his 23 years on the bench, focusing on the Court’s changing stance on religion and, specifically, the Establishment Clause. Recently, Scalia says, the Court is “more receptive to the needs of religious practice,” citing the 2005 decision, Van Orden v. Perry, to allow a display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Texas State Legislature.

Political satirist and comedian, Stephen Colbert, weighs in on Citizens United with a humorous end to the week’s Supreme Court coverage. Find an excerpt and summary at The Huffington Post.

Have a great weekend!