The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether voter identification laws unfairly deter poor and minority Americans from voting.
The decision means the high court is stepping into a contentious partisan issue in advance of the 2008 elections. The justices will hear arguments early next year in a challenge to an Indiana law that requires voters to present photo ID before casting their ballots.
The state has defended the law as a way to combat voter fraud. The state Democratic Party and civil rights groups complained that the law unfairly targets poor and minority voters, without any evidence that in-person voter fraud exists in Indiana. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona and Michigan, but struck down Missouri's.
In June, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out a challenge to that state's voter ID law but sidestepped a decision on whether the requirement was constitutional. But that changed earlier this month when the federal judge who first struck down the law ruled that a revised version passes constitutional muster.
While an appeal is still likely, the ruling is nonetheless a significant political win for Georgia's Republicans.
Voter ID became a signature issue for the party soon after it gained control of both chambers of the state Legislature.