WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just as many Democrats have been getting nervous about their presidential prospects in November against Republican John McCain, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a major ruling that potentially could have significant political fallout.
As you probably know by now, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that states can indeed require voters to produce photo identification in order to prevent voter fraud. “We cannot conclude that the statute imposes ‘excessively burdensome requirements’ on any class of voters,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the majority opinion.
For years, many Republicans have strongly supported these requirements as a way to make sure that only eligible U.S. citizens actually get to vote. Many Democrats have opposed these statutes, arguing that they often deter minority, elderly and poor voters from showing up at the polls. Some of these voters simply don’t have appropriate government-issued photo identification. More than 20 states already have such requirements. Now, with this Supreme Court decision, other states no doubt will follow suit.
One state that already has such a photo identification requirement is Indiana, which holds its Democratic presidential primary on May 6.
With the Supreme Court ruling that these requirements are in fact Constitutional, will minorities, the elderly and the poor in Indiana be deterred from showing up that day to vote? Will either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama benefit from this? He has done better with African American voters; she has done better with Hispanic voters. He has often done better with poor voters; she has done better with elderly voters.
I suspect this Supreme Court decision will have marginal impact in the remaining Democratic primaries. It probably will have a lot more impact in November – not only in the general presidential election but in several Senate and House races as well as in many other state and local contests.
As the Associated Press noted in its report, this decision “was the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush.”
Related: Watch Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena's analysis of the courts ruling