Posner reverses himself on voter ID

Judge Posner has figured out that voter ID = vote suppression. But … that’s why the GOP loves those laws.

Richard Posner, who wrote the majority opinion upholding the Indiana voter-ID law, has figured out that he was wrong, and that his colleague who argued that such laws are primarily vehicles for vote suppression was right.

This, of course, won’t change the minds of most supporters of such laws, for whom vote suppression has always been the point of the exercise.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

25 thoughts on “Posner reverses himself on voter ID”

  1. Judge Posner says, “One wasn’t alert to this kind of trickery even though it’s age old in the democratic process.” WTF?
    I really am getting tired of these kind of too late “OOPS” turnarounds by actors on the right. David Stockman’s ‘trickle down economics’? OOPS! Lee Atwater’s death bed confession? OOPS! So these clowns get to screw over the world AND be true blue decent people in the end?
    All these things that they do that are so obviously bogus but of course they are the serious people but hey everybody makes mistakes. So when will those mistakes be righted? When hell freezes I wager.

    1. Don’t forget Robert McNamara’s the Vietnam War? OOPS!

      I like Posner’s attempt to deflect responsibility with “One wasn’t alert” instead of “I wasn’t alert.” I would have thought that the lawyer for the side challenging the voter ID law would have alerted him.

      1. I haven’t read Judge Posner’s opinion for the Court of Appeals, but Justice Stevens’ plurality opinion for SCOTUS suggests that the Plaintiffs’ lawyers tried a piss poor case, failing to develop an evidentiary record sufficient to show which types of voters would have greater difficulty under the photo ID law.

      2. McNamara wasn’t exactly an actor of the right – he was Secretary of defense under Kennedy and lbj, not Reagan and Bush.

        1. One might define an action as being of the right or of the left on the basis of its nature rather than on the basis of the political party to which the actor belongs. Obama, for example, is not acting as a liberal when he drops bombs on nations that have not attacked us, keeps people imprisoned without due process, allows the NSA to engage in massive violations of the Fourth Amendment, and charges whistleblowers with espionage.

    2. One more: The numerous people — Democrats as well as Republicans — who allowed themselves to be duped by Bush to support his invasion of Iraq, and now repent. In fact, as many have noted, they are taken more seriously now (as “Very Serious People”) than those who were right from the start.

      1. … taken more seriously because, obviously, they are very serious people who very seriously weigh the evidence pro and con, and, when it’s a close call, they very occasionally get it wrong; Because they are very serious, when (paraphrasing Keynes) new evidence comes in, they very seriously correct themselves. That the initial opinion is on p. 1 and has many serious consequences while the correction is too late to have any impact on anything and is on p. 37 is, seriously, too bad, but should not detract from their being VSPs. When have those who were right from the start ever shown the humility of admitting that they were wrong?[1]

        [1] This being the internet, I feel that a disclaimer is necessary: this is sarcasm.

      2. Oh, they are revered as lions, in contrast to you know, the DFHs (dirty f***ing hippies) who were so shrill and must be extremists because they opposed the idiocy from the beginning.

    3. = = = I really am getting tired of these kind of too late “OOPS” turnarounds by actors on the right. David Stockman’s ‘trickle down economics’? OOPS! Lee Atwater’s death bed confession? OOPS! So these clowns get to screw over the world AND be true blue decent people in the end? = = =

      Sandra Day O’Conner, whose actions brought the United States Empire measurably closer to its end and who later admitted she “might” have been wrong, is probably the canonical example of this phenomenon.


      1. …this phenomenon…

        I’d say epiphenomenon.
        The actual phenomenon is the phenomenal habit of always being on the wrong side of history.

        Being reactionary is always having to say you are sorry.
        Being progressive rarely puts you in this position.

  2. Aaaaaand… Posner makes his move to get on his U. of Chicago Law School buddy’s list for the next Supreme Court vacancy.

    1. Posner was on Reagan’s short list after Bork was rejected, but he came out as a legal pragmatist in an article in the New Republic and killed his chances. He’s 74 now, so I doubt that Obama would consider him.

  3. Face it, there is no way around the paradox here. A sincere and meaningful “I was wrong” is sufficiently rare that it needs to be respected. However, the problem in 2007 was not that Posner and like-minded judges weren’t “given the facts that they need to make a sound decision.” Judge Evans saw through the proto-teabaggers quite clearly; the others should have as well.

  4. The second Iraq war is both an illustration of the principal that many people simply ignore facts that are contra to their position, but also supportive of the principle that people change their positions once they consider facts that are contra to their position.

    For instance, I was in favor of the war because the “facts” reported to me by the Bush Administration were so compelling and I gave a good deal of deference to the BA. After all, it was well nigh unimaginable that the BA could be such mendacious liars to lie about so many significant issues.

    Later, when it became clear that the undertaking was a complete flim-flam, I changed my position.

    Krugman has an interesting take on this issue in a posting today. See here: http://nyti.ms/173qN5w. It references another posting from the Columbia Journalism Review here: http://bit.ly/1bzkILv In essence, being confronted with facts that are contra to your established position only causes you to dig in your heals.

    1. In other words, you are just another Posner.
      Who could have predicted that the BA would lie?

      The scenario you characterize as “well nigh unimaginable” was not only imagined, but also thoroughly fleshed out by many writers and intellectuals on the Left and even some Righties during the run up to the Iraq. Maybe you didn’t want to know.

    2. Not only what Ralph said, but there are no non-mendacious liars. “Mendacious” is not a term of emphasis, but means “lying,” so “mendacious liars” means “lying liars.” Of course, the latter phrase was in the title of a book by Al Franken: Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. But he was a comedian when he wrote that.

      1. Franken was writing a funny book but he was at the same time writing a very accurate piece of political commentary. The book was well researched and documentation was sighted exhaustively. Truth be told I think Franken was doing more valuable work as a political commentor than he is as a senator but time will tell.

  5. Well, isn’t that precious. Maybe Judge Posner and Diane Ravitch can have dinner one of these evenings and commiserate with one another. Deborah Meier and the shade of Judge Evans can then buy them dessert.

    1. Yes, Ravitch was as wrong as Posner was but the difference — so far, at least — is that Ravitch has been working very hard making amends and making a real difference in the effort against the school deform movement. It looks to me as if she is beyond “commiserating.” We can wish Posner would follow her lead.

  6. It’s a great piece of writing by the reporter, too, when he gets to the actual controversy about voter ID laws. No actual facts, just “Republicans say that the laws are necessary.. Democrats assert that that the amount of fraud is tiny.”
    I mean, some reporters might have been tempted to dirty their reportorial purity by actually telling readers whether the amount of fraud really is in fact tiny. But not this reporter; he’ll stick with ‘he said she said’ because, you know, opinions differ on whether the Earth is round or flat.

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