Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Separate Wisconsin District Courts of Appeals Upheld Lower Courts Injunctions Of The Voter ID Law

J.B. Van Hollen

Van Hollen's appeals to stay several injunctions of the Voter ID law headed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 28, 2012

Madison - On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen received a major setback in his appeals to stay a temporary and a permanent injunction of the Voter ID law. Both the Wisconsin District IV and District II Courts of Appeals lack of decision kept the lower courts decision valid to halt implementation of the Voter ID law for the April 3 elections.
The Government Accountability Board, local and county election commissions won't be required to implement the ID law requiring those electors to present a valid Wisconsin ID to cast a vote.
The District IV and II Courts of Appeals consolidated both Van Hollen's appeals and sent the cases directly to the state Supreme Court for review. The appeal judges agreed that the cases raise legal issues affecting state government functions and they couldn't address the issues, automatically upholding the lower courts injunctions of the ID law. The state Supreme Court would have to decide, if it will accept the cases to resolved whether to implement the Voter ID law or uphold the lower courts injunctions for the upcoming elections. At least 4 justices out of 7 are needed to take the cases. 
Van Hollen had filed a petition with District IV Court of Appeals to overturn a permanent ruling by Dane County Judge Robert Niess in a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters. Van Hollen had argued that the state legislature's authority wasn't limited and under Article III, Section 2 of the state Constitution it didn't violate the Constitution by enacting the Voter ID.
On March 12, Judge Neiss ruled otherwise and said that the state Constitution didn't give authority for the legislature to create another class of citizens to implement voter restrictions.The League of Women Voters claimed the Wisconsin state Constitution only allowed legislators to prevent felons and mentally incompetent people from voting and did not include another category of citizens. The Voter ID also known as Act 23, illegally created another group to be excluded from voting and Judge Niess agreed.
Van Hollen also had filed a petition with District II Court of Appeals to stay a temporary injunction of the Voter ID by Dane County Judge David Flanagan. The lawsuit was filed the Milwaukee Chapter of the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera. Van Hollen had argued that the Voter ID law did not provide burdens for a citizen to acquire a birth certificate copy and the legislature provided funds ($6 million) for those who couldn't afford an ID to get one free for the purpose of voting.
On April 16, Judge Flanagan ruled that the Voter ID would keep about 220,000 low income voting-age citizens from voting due to the burdens imposed by the state legislature. Some citizens could not afford $10 to $40 to get a birth certificate copy to apply for a state ID.
The Republican control legislature passed the Voter ID law in May and Governor Scott Walker (R) signed it into law.
The Republicans are accused by Democrats of trying to keep low-income minorities from voting to set the stage for a Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin in an efford to oust President Barack H. Obama (D-IL) from office in 2012.

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