How often does it happen that a law professor flags a factual error in a Supreme Court opinion and the Justice thereafter changes that opinion to correct the error? Answer: not that often.
So when it happens, some of us think that credit should be given. Okay? So, onto the story, albeit the brief version.
In Justice Ginsburg’s 6-page dissent in the Texas voter id case, she writes: “Nor will Texas accept photo ID cards issued by the U. S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”
A few people have pointed me to material from Texas which seems to suggest that these cards would be acceptable as a form of military identification. Veterans ID cards do not expire, and therefore they seem to meet the Texas requirement: “a United States military identification card that contains the person’s photograph that has not expired or that expired no earlier than 60 days before the date of presentation.” (my emphasis)
By way of an update, he added: The Texas Secretary of State’s office has responded via Twitter: “Veterans Affairs ID cards are an acceptable form of photo ID in TX.
In ticking off her objections, Ginsburg wrote that Texas would not even accept “photo ID cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.” On Wednesday, the Justice conceded that that comment was incorrect. That kind of ID card, she said through the Court’s public information office, is “an acceptable form of photo identification for voting in Texas.” So she simply deleted the sentence, and reissued the opinion. The Court also said that she had made “small stylistic changes” on two pages of her opinion, and that the corrected version could be read on the Court’s website.
Nothing groundbreaking, but noteworthy nonetheless. Meanwhile, kudos to Professor Hasen (and his tipsters) for helping to get the official record straight.
→ Re correcting the official record, see: Adam Liptak, “Final Word on U.S. Law Isn’t: Supreme Court Keeps Editing,” New York Times, May 24, 2014 (“The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include ‘truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,’ said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon.”).