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PA Supreme Court Will Hear Challenges To Voter ID Law

Proceedings will be televised Thursday morning on PCN.

Challenges to the state’s voter ID law and the legislative redistricting plan will dominate the state Supreme Court’s session on Thursday.

The court will convene in a first-time-ever live televised session in City Hall in Philadelphia, starting at 9:30 a.m. The public can tune into Pennsylvania Cable Network to watch the attorneys at work presenting arguments in defense of their respective view in the cases. Justices use these sessions to explore issues, pose questions and push arguments to see what the parties have to say about them. The focus of the hearing is primarily on arguments of law rather than facts of the case. Generally, the arguments in each case lasts a half-hour to an hour, according to a spokesman for the state courts’ administrative offices.
The first case on the court’s schedule is the voter ID law challenge followed immediately by a broad appeal of the legislative redistricting plan, which Cumberland County commissioners, have joined over the way it splits the county into three senatorial districts.
Some observers of the Supreme Court offered these tips for citizens to keep in mind when viewing the voter ID session:

  • University of Pennsylvania law professor Seth Kreimer — “I think its important to think about whether there’s a real justification for this and who’s going to be harmed by it and the degree, to which we value and the courts value the right to vote. Those are going to be the crucial questions.” 
  • TempleUniversity law professor Jan Ting — “If I was able to watch the oral argument I would pay attention to the questions asked by the justices as a window into their thinking.” 
  • PennState’s Dickinson School of Law assistant professor Jill Engle  — “I think the citizens of Pennsylvania watching this unfold should be attuned to the utter lack of demonstrated voter fraud. The commonwealth has conceded it earlier in the litigation, and they likely will again on Thursday.”  
  • Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg lobbyist and Republican consultant strategist — “The arguments generally don’t last very long before there are questions from the justices on the bench. That’s very commonplace so somebody watching for the first time should know counsels’ arguments will be interrupted probably frequently by the justices asking questions of them. … You can get a sense of where a justice might be leaning by the questions he or she asks, but you shouldn’t draw too much inference from the questions they ask.” 
  • Sam Stretton, a West Chester lawyer who has argued many cases before the Supreme Court — “What you will see is very serious arguments by very well-prepared lawyers and justices who are very well prepared debating important legal issues. You’ll see democracy at work. The excitement is when justices pose difficult questions and lawyers attempt to answer them … Don’t expect high drama like in the movies. Don’t expect screaming and yelling. Expect reasoned discourse and if you hear any screaming that means the attorneys are not doing a good job.”

– Published by The Patriot News  September 12, 2012

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