Wisconsin Supreme Court refuses to consider voter ID lawsuits

[JURIST] The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] issued an order Monday dismissing its review of two lawsuits challenging Wisconsin's controversial voter ID law [Wisconsin Act 23; JURIST news archive], leaving state appellate courts to decide whether to lift an injunction [JURIST report] against the law. In the two cases, NAACP v. Walker and League of Women Voters v. Walker [case materials], the plaintiffs assert that Wisconsin's voter ID law is too restrictive and prevents many minority, poor and elderly voters from casting a ballot. The Wisconsin Courts of Appeal for District II and District IV [certifications, PDFs] sent the cases directly to the Supreme Court last month, stating the importance of deciding the issue before the upcoming May 8 primary elections. Earlier in March, Judge Richard Neiss of the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] blocked the voter ID law, calling it unconstitutional, and supported an injunction [JURIST report] against the law pending appeal. The law would require a voter to display photo ID when entering a polling place to vote.

Neiss's ruling last month found that the law was unconstitutional because it went against the very idea of suffrage by preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Days later, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] appealed the injunction [JURIST report] on behalf the defendants in the cases, arguing that the voter ID law is necessary to prevent voter fraud. The current injunction followed a temporary injunction [JURIST report] of the law by Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan who said that the law was more restrictive than similar laws that have been upheld in other states. There have also been two federal challenges to the law since it was first introduced. The Advancement Project [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit in February [JURIST report] on behalf of four other rights groups, alleging that the law is unconstitutional because it is racially discriminatory. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty [advocacy websites] also filed a federal lawsuit in December [JURIST report]. There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that have passed laws requiring voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 16 states requiring photo ID.

 

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