Some in the conservative media are comparing voter ID laws to a supposed photo ID requirement for First Lady Michelle Obama's upcoming book signing to accuse the Obama administration of hypocrisy. However, such a comparison is invalid, because while people have a constitutional right to vote, they do not have a constitutional right to meet with the first lady.
On May 30, the blog Obama Foodorama reported that Michelle Obama will appear at a Washington, D.C. Barnes & Noble on June 12 to sign copies of her new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. Obama Foodorama further reported that those wishing to attend the event will have to purchase a copy of the first lady's book and "submit their social security number and show an official photo ID (driver's license, passport) to a Secret Service agent" in advance of the signing.
Conservative media have seized on Obama Foodorama's report to attack the Obama administration, accusing them of having a hypocritical position on photo ID requirements.
A June 6 NewsBusters post by John Bates, headlined "First Lady Requires Photo ID for Her Book Signings; Voter ID Law-hating Media Fail to Note Obama Hypocrisy," declared:
The Obama administration has done its best to oppose states from instituting new, stricter voter ID laws, complaining that many minority voters lack photo identification. But those same folks it wants voting in November are apparently not welcome anywhere near the First Lady's book signings. Something tells me that the same media outlets comparing voter ID laws to the Jim Crow Laws, however, won't see any hint of hypocrisy here, if they even report the story at all.
Fox Nation linked to the NewsBusters post with the headline "Michelle Obama Photo ID Rule."
On today's edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased Michelle Obama's book signing by saying, "The White House thinks you shouldn't have to show an ID to vote, but to get your book signed by the first lady you'll need an ID and a whole lot more."
At the same time, Fox aired a caption asking: "ID Hypocrisy?"
Kilmeade later said, "Some are smelling hypocrisy. First Lady Michelle Obama's security detail requiring photo IDs for a book signing. This despite the president's strong opposition to voter ID laws. He claims they are discriminatory."
Putting aside the issue of Michelle Obama's safety, it's incorrect to compare a photo ID requirement for a book signing with the first lady to voter ID laws. Identification requirements for things like travel, purchasing alcohol, filling a prescription, and attending the first lady's book signing are fundamentally different from voting, since they are not constitutionally protected rights whereas voting is.
As ACLU South Carolina executive director Victoria Middleton explained in a William & Mary Election Law Society post:
Photo IDs are required for many activities these days, from boarding a plane to purchasing a six-pack of beer. When asked if it was unreasonable to ask an individual to present an ID to vote, Middleton said, "It's not a constitutional right to buy Sudafed or become a frequent flier." She continued, "People fought and died to win the right to vote."
Even vote fraudster J. Christian Adams has called such comparisons "silly and constitutionally incorrect."
Moreover, while people do have the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances," the first lady is not officially part of the government.