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The U.S. Supreme Court appears unlikely to strike down an Indiana voter identification law that has drawn criticism from some Jewish groups. In a hearing Wednesday, the justices appeared divided over a 2005 measure requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. The four more liberal members of the court appeared far more critical of the state than their conservative counterparts. The American Jewish Committee filed an amicus brief in the case in November in conjunction with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Council of Jewish Women, and other civil rights and labor organizations. “The most valuable precept of our nation’s democracy is the right to vote freely for a candidate of one’s choice,” said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC’s general counsel. “The Indiana law places an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote by unfairly discriminating against particular groups such as the elderly, the poor, the handicapped, students and minorities, who are less likely to possess government-issued photo ID. “ The American Jewish Congress, which often works on voting-rights issues, decided not to become involved in this case. Its general counsel, Marc Stern, said there was some question of whether any voters had actually been disenfranchised by the law. Stern also pointed out that the 2000 Bush vs. Gore case made it explicit that there is “no constitutional right to vote.”

Settlement outposts “have got to go,” President Bush said in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“In terms of outposts, yeah, they’ve got to go,” Bush said on the start of his first visit to Israel in his seven years as U.S. president. He was responding to a reporter’s question about West Bank settlements established without Israeli government authorization. “Look, we’ve been talking about it for four years.”

Olmert appeared taken aback by Bush’s bluntness, which came moments after Olmert said “the president didn’t ask for me to make any commitments other than the ones that Israel made already regarding the peace process.”

Olmert has modified Israel’s view on the role of settlement expansion in the Bush-initiated “road map” peace process. His predecessor, Ariel Sharon, argued with the Americans that Israel’s actions on settlements would come after Palestinians demonstrated an ability to prevent terrorism. Olmert has said Israel’s obligation to stop settlement expansion is not contingent on Palestinian measures.

U.S. officials had hoped that Olmert would have taken some measures to dismantle outposts before the Bush visit. Olmert quickly reassured Bush that he will address the outposts.

“We have no interest in delaying matters,” he said.

Olmert also said that Israel would continue to build in east Jerusalem and in the larger settlements near Jerusalem, which he said do not come under the purview of the road map.

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