WisBar News: State supreme court may hear voter identification cases on certification from appeals courts:

State Bar of Wisconsin

Sign In
Graphic of Jellybean the Cow

Top Link Bar

News & Pubs Search

Advanced
  • WisBar News
    March
    28
    2012

    State supreme court may hear voter identification cases on certification from appeals courts

    Joe Forward
    Legal Writer

    Share This:
    March 28, 2012 – Today, state appeals courts certified two cases in which plaintiffs are seeking to nullify the state's contentious voter identification law to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    State supreme court may hear voter identification cases on certification from appeals courts

    Appeals courts have asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to resolve challenges to a new law that requires voters to show acceptable forms of voter identification. The injunctions that halted the law’s enforcement remain in place pending a decision by the supreme court.

    By org jforward wisbar Joe Forward, Legal Writer, State Bar of Wisconsin

    State supreme court may hear voter ID 
cases on certification from appeals 
courts March 28, 2012 – Today, state appeals courts certified two cases in which plaintiffs are seeking to nullify the state’s contentious voter identification law to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    Last summer, the Wisconsin Legislature passed 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, which requires voters to present acceptable forms of photo identification in order to vote in elections. Previously, only proof of residence was required to vote or submit an absentee ballot.

    In one case, Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP at al. v. Scott Walker et al., Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan on March 6 issued a temporary injunction against the law after the circuit court determined a trial could not be held before the April 3 primary elections. The plaintiffs are two nonprofit organizations and 12 Wisconsin citizens.

    The District II Court of Appeals certified the case to the supreme court, with an accompanying motion to stay the temporary injunction, meaning the injunction is still in place.

    The appeals court asks the supreme court to decide whether the Wisconsin Constitution provides greater protection to voting rights than the U.S. Constitution guarantees, and whether the state constitution prohibits the identification requirements that Act 23 imposes, among other questions.

    “Because these issues have great consequence to the voters of this state and election officials, we believe that the Supreme Court is the proper forum to hear the case,” the panel wrote.

    In a second case, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Scott Walker et al., Dane County Circuit Court Jude Richard Niess issued a permanent injunction, declaring that the law violates the Wisconsin Constitution under the circumstances.

    The District IV Court of Appeals certified the case to the supreme court, also with an accompanying motion to stay the permanent injunction, meaning the injunction is still in place.

    “The constitutionality of Act 23 is an issue of first impression and one of great consequence to all citizens of Wisconsin,” the District IV panel wrote in its certification, noting that it makes sense to have the supreme court decide the issues presented in both cases at once.

    “[T]his case involves the legislature’s authority to regulate elections, the public’s interest in preventing election fraud, and the public’s interest in preventing voter disenfranchisement.”