[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] Wisconsin from enforcing its voter ID law [Act 23 text]. The order vacates a September 12 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which stayed an injunction [JURIST report] on the law’s enforcement. Thursday’s decision, issued without comment, came as the result of an emergency request [JURIST report] filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project [advocacy websites]. Justice Samuel Alito dissented from the order, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas:
There is a colorable basis for the Court’s decision due to the proximity of the upcoming general elections. it is particularly troubling that absentee ballots have been sent out without any notation that proof of photo identification must be submitted. but this Court “may not vacate a stay entered by a court of appeals unless that court clearly and ‘demonstrably’ erred in its application of ‘accepted standards.'”
The Seventh Circuit ruled earlier this week that the Wisconsin law is constitutional [JURIST report], but Thursday’s order means that it cannot be enforced pending appeal.
Wisconsin is just one of several states whose voting laws are currently being litigated. On Wednesday the Supreme Court allowed North Carolina [JURIST report] to do away with out-of-precinct voting, pre-registration for minors and same day voter registration under a new voter law. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that early voting in Ohio, consisting of a 35 day “golden week,” should remain in effect [JURIST report] despite the district court’s ruling against the law. The issue of voting rights was recently the subject of a Congressional study [JURIST report] released on Wednesday, looking at how voter ID laws dffect voter turnout. The study found that in states with stricter voter ID laws, there have been substantial drops in voter turnout, especially impacting minority groups and young voters, compared to states without such restrictions.