[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Wednesday filed [press release] a petition [cert. petition, PDF] asking the US Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling upholding Wisconsin’s voter identification law. Wisconsin’s Act 23 [text, PDF], which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, was struck down by a federal district court, but reinstated [JURIST reports] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website]. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project [official website], said:
Throughout years of litigation, Wisconsin has failed to identify a single instance of the type of fraud this law purportedly seeks to prevent. At the same time, it is absolutely clear this law would prevent thousands of voters from exercising the most fundamental right in our democracy. The Supreme Court has an opportunity now to help protect the right of all Americans to vote free from undue burdens.
The ACLU is challenging the law on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [text] and the Voting Rights Act [materials].
Debate over voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] has sparked continuing controversy in the US. In November a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering to vote. In October the US Supreme Court allowed [JURIST report] Texas to enforce a strict 2011 voter ID law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. Also in October the Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] struck down [JURIST report] that state’s voter ID law finding it unconstitutional. The same month, the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked the enforcement of the Wisconsin voter ID law at the emergency request of the ACLU, due to the then-upcoming November election. The Wisconsin voter ID law began its run through the courts in July 2012 when a judge for Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court ruled [JURIST report] that the voter ID law was unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against the law’s enforcement.