Trial on permanent injunction in Voter ID law appeal set for July

The Pennsylvania judge presiding over the appeal in the Voter ID case has scheduled trial on the permanent injunction request for mid July.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson in a Jan. 22 scheduling order said that proceedings would begin inside his Harrisburg courtroom on July 15 at 10 a.m.

The petitioners in the case, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pa. and other civil rights attorneys, are seeking to have the courts issue a permanent injunction barring the controversial law from taking effect until the other legal aspects of the case are decided.

The Republican-pushed law requires voters to show photo identification before casting ballots at the polls.

Other states have enacted similar measures, with most of the laws having been challenged because of their controversial nature.

Simpson had granted the petitioners’ request for a temporary injunction last year that halted the law from being rolled out prior to November’s general election, but the ruling allowed the implementation of the law to move forward after the election.

The petitioners are registered voters who claim they would be disproportionately disenfranchised if the law were allowed to move forward.

They are suing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett and Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele.

In his scheduling order, Simpson gave the parties until 60 days from the date of the order by which to close their pleadings.

Discovery, the judge wrote, would need to be concluded 30 days before the start of trial, and any motion to continue or modify the preliminary injunction issued on Oct. 2 of last year must be filed by Feb. 8, with responses mandated to be filed by Feb. 13.

“Given the extensive prior hearings and need to resolve preliminary injunction issues in sufficient time to allow any appeals to be decided before the next election, further hearing will be granted only upon cause shown,” Simpson wrote in his order. “It is the intent of the Court to try to resolve any preliminary injunction issues by March 21, 2013.”

Simpson further ordered pre-trial briefs to be filed and served by 4:30 p.m. on June 17, with post-trial briefs and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law filed within 45 days of the close of the record.

The trial on permanent injunction is expected to last about a week.

The plaintiffs in the case are asking the court to extend its preliminary injunction until the merits of the entire case have been decided.

The other attorneys working on the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, in addition to the ACLU, are lawyers from the Public Interest Center of Philadelphia, the Advancement Project, and the Washington, D.C. firm of Arnold & Porter.

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