[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Friday reinstated Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law after the three-judge panel issued an order [order, PDF] staying the injunction issued [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin [official website], stating that the state may require photo identification during the November elections. During the hearing, the panel rejected [AP report] the argument that the law was discriminatory. The court reasoned that because the Supreme Court of Wisconsin [official website] revised [order, PDF] the procedures after the district court’s decision to make it easier for persons who have difficulty affording any fees to obtain the birth certificates or other documentation needed under the law, or to have the need for documentation waived, the likelihood of irreparable injury is reduced. Therefore, the balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief was changed, warranting a stay of the injunction.
Voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] have been a contested subject in the US recently. In May Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett [official website] announced [JURIST report] that the Office of General Counsel [official website] would not pursue an appeal in defense of the Commonwealth’s voter identification law [materials, HB 934]. The law, passed [JURIST report] in March 2012, required all voters to submit a government issued photo ID in order to vote in all elections. In April a judge for the Pulaski County Circuit Court for the 6th Division [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an Arkansas voter ID law [bill, PDF], finding that it violates the state constitution. In October the Tennessee Supreme Court [official website] unanimously rejected [JURIST report] a movement to overturn the Tennessee Voter Identification Act, ruling that a requirement of government-issued photo ID for voters is constitutional.