Corbett Judge Should Overturn Ruling Deeming Voter Id Law Illegal

01.22.14 | Bob Price

Pa Gov. Tom Corbett said Wednesday he does not agree with a judge's ruling that shot down the state's voter identification law and will ask the judge to reconsider his decision.

While declining to elaborate, Corbett said he is not surprised Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley found the 2012 law unconstitutional in his decision issued Friday. But, Corbett, a lawyer and former state attorney general, said he thinks the law was legal and it could be implemented constitutionally despite McGinley's ruling to the contrary.

The law had required adults to present state-approved voter ID cards before casting ballots. But the law had been put on hold because of legal challenges.

Earlier this year, following court testimony, McGinley had imposed a temporary ban on the law because the state was issuing misleading or nonexistent information on the law's requirements. On Friday, he made that ban permanent.

In ruling the law unconstitutional, McGinley, said state officials failed to meet the law's requirement to provide "liberal access" to the required identification cards. For that reason, the law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution's guarantee of a fundamental right to vote, he said.

"Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal," McGinley wrote in his 50-page opinion.

The next procedural step in the legal process, Corbett said, is for the office of General Counsel to file post-trial motions asking McGinley to reconsider his decision.

But Corbett stopped short of saying whether he would appeal the ruling further, to the full Commonwealth court or state Supreme Court, should McGinley opt not to over-rule himself.

His administration will talk over its legal strategy with Republican leadership in the legislature before making a final decision whether to appeal, Corbett said.

Corbett is a Republican; McGinley is a Democrat.

Corbett made his comments during a question-and-answer session with media following a news conference in which he said his administration would propose a 10 percent increase or $2.2 million for rape crisis services and domestic violence prevention programs.

In his comments, Corbett touched on the need for a fair school funding formula in which the state should have a say in how school districts spend state money.

Corbett also said he disagreed with his Democratic challengers in this year's election who advocate for severance tax on companies drilling for natural gas to help fund education.