As I said last week, "As long as legislators in our state continue to pass bills they've barely bothered to read, let alone understand and think through, they're going to continue to get bit in the butts by their own shoddy legislation when it ends up in court."
The butt-biting continued on Thursday as the State Supreme Court ruled that Shelby County's library cards worked as a photo ID for voting. Since the lower court cited precedent for accepting city-issued photo ID as being issued by an entity of the state, this is completely unsurprising. If the Supreme Court didn't hear of other precedent or clear law that showed different, it seemed this was the likely outcome.
What is surprising — and fine if it makes me naive — is that Mark Goins, the state elections coordinator, would have said otherwise. I mean, I know the man has to stick up for his bosses, but that he could say, as he did in Thursday's City Paper story before the ruling was handed out, "We continue to believe the General Assembly clearly intended for only state- or federally issued photo IDs to be valid for the purposes of identifying voters and remain confident the Supreme Court will confirm our interpretation," is pretty laughable.
You can't make a legitimate court ruling on "believe"s and "intended"s, and I know Goins knows better than that. I'm sure the state legislature will go back and clarify this law. But there is simply no need for us to be in this mess in the first place.
A legislator's job is to propose bills and pass laws. If a legislator cannot understand the bills he or she is passing, if he or she can't either craft bills that do what the legislator wants them to do or can't get someone to craft the bills for him or her, then that legislator simply isn't qualified for the job.
This whole fiasco should not result in blame and finger-pointing at the courts. It should result in some soul-searching and reform among our legislators. But I have little hope that will happen.