Softening Voter ID Laws Through Litigation: Is It Enough?

Richard L. Hasen

In theory, softening of voter identification laws through litigation is a positive development aimed at avoiding disenfranchisement of both voters who face special burdens obtaining an acceptable government-issued identification necessary to vote and of those voters who face confusion or administrative error. In practice, however, softening may do less to alleviate the actual burdens of voter identification laws than to make judges feel better about their Solomonic rulings. In fact, softening devices still leave an uncertain number of voters disenfranchised. These burdens might be justified if there were evidence that state voter identification laws solve a serious problem, but there is no such evidence.

The 1790 Naturalization Act and the Original Meaning of the Natural Born Citizen Clause: A Short Primer on Historical Method and the Limits of Originalism

Saul Cornell

During the 2016 Presidential election a number of constitutional scholars debated Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be President. This was not the first time in recent American history that the meaning of the Constitution’s “natural born citizen” clause was a live issue in American law. The answer to this legal question depends on the particular theory of constitutional interpretation one favors. There has been a good deal of speculation on this issue by scholars of different methodological commitments. Much of the debate focuses on the meaning of the 1790 Naturalization Act, which raises deeper questions about the evolving debate over the legitimacy of originalism as a constitutional theory. Rather than approach the meaning of eighteenth-century constitutional and legal texts in a genuinely historical fashion, originalists have adopted a method plagued by anachronism, which invariably leads to distortion.