Rights groups ask US Supreme Court to block Wisconsin voter ID law

Rights groups ask US Supreme Court to block Wisconsin voter ID law

[JURIST] Those challenging Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law asked the US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday to take emergency action and block the law [emergency application to vacate, PDF] before the November 4 election. Last month the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] ruled that the law would remain in effect [JURIST report] while it considers a legal challenge. However, state election officials have been scrambling to prepare for the new photo ID requirement. Those requesting a stay, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Advancement Project [advocacy websites], are arguing that there is not enough time to implement the new rules and that implementing the requirement will create chaos at the polls [AP report] while disenfranchising over 300,000 voters.

State voter ID laws [JURIST background] have been highly contested in dozens of US states in recent years. Rights groups argue that voter ID legislation is an attempt by conservatives to preserve their political power through voter suppression of minorities. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia are just a few of the states currently embroiled [JURIST news archive] in litigation with state residents and civil rights advocacy groups over their voter ID legislation. In January Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett [official website] filed [JURIST report] a post-trial motion alleging that a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge made critical mistakes in his analysis finding Pennsylvania’s voter ID law unconstitutional. Last November the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] agreed [JURIST report] to hear arguments in two cases regarding that state’s voter ID law, which was blocked in 2012 and then reinstated in May 2013. The Tennessee Supreme Court [official website] last October rejected [JURIST report] a movement to overturn that state’s voter ID law, unanimously upholding its constitutionality. Two months earlier, the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed [JURIST report] suit against the state of Texas, claiming its voter ID law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as well as the voting guarantees of the 14th and 15th Amendments [texts, LII].