On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that while on its face, the Voter ID law of South Carolina did not seem discriminatory due to the built-in safeguards, the proper implementation of those safeguards would require up to 2013. Hence, implementation of the law was postponed until next year.
South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, welcomed the court decision and said, “Would I have loved for it to happen in 2012? Absolutely. But do not lose sight that this was a powerful fight that we really had to scratch and kick to get done.” South Carolina seemed overall pleased with the outcome as a vindication of state efforts, as reflected by the opinion of the Governor.
Though the safeguards in the law made the court decide in favor of holding the law was not discriminatory, South Carolina is one of 16 states, where election laws require approval of the U.S. Department of Justice, due to a history of discrimination. Consequently, the court held, “given the short time left before the 2012 elections and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman said on the question of implementation of the law in future elections: “the Attorney General intends to monitor its implementation closely to ensure compliance with the court’s order.”
Writing on behalf of the unanimous D.C. Circuit, Judge Kavannaugh observed, “There is too much of a risk to African-American voters for us to roll the dice.” Commenting on the reasons for postponing implementation of the law with immediate effect, the court observed, “We are fully aware, moreover, that what looks good on paper may fall apart in practice. We expect and anticipate that South Carolina state, county and local officials will endeavor to prevent such slippage.”