CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Brett Kavanaugh, who President Trump nominated to the Supreme Court in a primetime announcement Monday, had a significant role in shaping South Carolina's voter identification law which went into effect in 2013.
When he was a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Washington D.C. Circuit in 2012, Kavanaugh was part of a three-judge panel which upheld the law signed by then Gov. Nikki Haley in May 2011 which mandated the need for a government-issued photo identification when voting in the Palmetto State.
Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for the panel after the Department of Justice objected to the law because it said the necessity of a photo identification adversely affected minority voters. Then Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez crafted a memo which stated that as of October 2011, 10 percent of registered non-white voters in the state lacked any form of DMV-issued ID. Perez came to the conclusion with the available data in the DMV database that minority voters were nearly 20 percent more likely to lack DMV-issued IDs than white registered voters.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued the Justice Department in February 2012 saying the federal government was wrong to block the law. At the time, it was the first voter ID law to be refused by the federal agency in nearly 20 years.
While Kavanaugh and the panel upheld the law, they accepted a watered-down version of the original. The law now states that voters can vote without a photo identification as long as they can site a "reasonable impediment" to obtaining an ID and sign an affidavit for their reason.
Disability, illness, work conflict, lack of transportation, family responsibilities, lack of birth certificate and religious objection to being photographed are all acceptable reasons.
Kavanaugh also blocked the law from being implemented until 2013, citing fears for potential chaos because the ruling was so close to the November 2012 general election.
Perez is now the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Wilson recently won the GOP nomination for Attorney General over Rep. Todd Atwater in June. Kavanaugh is expected to meet the Sen. Lindsey Graham Wednesday.