The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just issued a ruling on the state’s voter ID law saying that the matter should be kicked back to the lower Commonwealth Court for further review. That court refused civil rights lawyers an injunction on the law back in August.

The ruling states:

“Upon review, we find that the disconnect between what the Law prescribes and how

it

is

being

implemented

has

created

a

number

of

conceptual

difficulties

in addressing

the

legal

issues

raised. … Overall,

we

are

confronted

with

an

ambitious

effort

on

the

part

of

the

General Assembly

to

bring

the

new

identification

procedure

into

effect within

a relatively

short time-frame and an implementation process which has by no means been

seamless in light of the

serious operational

constraints faced by the executive branch.

Given this state of affairs, we are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the

assurances

of

government

officials,

even

though

we

have

no

doubt

they

are proceeding in good faith. Thus, we will return the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present

assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in

light

of

the

experience

since

the

time

the

cards became

available.”

This is neither an up or down, for or against decision from the state supreme court, rather an acknowledgment that there are still unresolved questions with the law that deserve further review from the lower court.

Professor Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, tells Colorlines.com that the Supreme Court’s ruling is a “prudent approach to a complicated problem.”

Says Tokaji: “This is a very practical ruling to deal with a thorny problem – the basic problem is that if something isn’t done then a lot of people will be kept from voting by this law because the process for getting ID is a complicated and challenging one. I actually think the court ruled in a restrained and appropriate way, by sending the matter back to the lower court to make a present assessment about how available the ID is for voters.”

Meaning Commonwealth Court judge will have to re-examine whether there is a significant burden for Pennsylvania voters in obtaining ID to vote.

Read more about the Pa. Supreme Court voter ID case in our post: “The Racial Burdens Obscured by Voter ID Laws.”