The 6-3 ruling stemmed from an Indiana case and Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, said the statute requiring proof of identity was not aimed at restricting the rights of certain voters. Stevens said Indiana has a right to deter voter fraud, eliminate ineligible names from voter registration rolls and protect public confidence in elections.
"There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of a state's interest in counting only eligible voters' votes," Stevens wrote.
In a concurring opinion, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said supposition that the voter-identification law imposes a special burden on some voters is irrelevant. They said the law should be upheld because its overall burden is minimal and justified.
In his dissent. Justice David Souter said the law imposes a heavier burden on residents of small, rural counties who have to travel great distances to acquire drivers' licenses or state photo IDs.
"The state interests fail to justify the practical limitations placed on the right to vote, and the law imposes an unreasonable and irrelevant burden on voters who are poor and old. I would vacate the judgment of the 7th (U.S.) Circuit (Court of Appeals), and remand for further proceedings," he wrote.