The Washington Post

Wisconsin high court won’t restore voter ID law before Election Day

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court denied the state’s request to immediately hear its appeals of two trial court-level rulings invalidating a voter identification law, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen last month asked the high court to delay enforcement of the decisions rendered by a pair of judges in the state’s capital city, Madison, earlier this year pending appellate review. He also asked the seven-justice panel to immediately hear his challenges and bypass the state’s intermediate appellate court.

In separate rulings issued today, the high court denied Van Hollen’s requests.

“There will be no voter ID law in effect for the presidential election on Nov. 6,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Lester Pines said in a phone interview. His Madison firm represented the League of Women Voters Wisconsin Education Network in one of the cases.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess, who presided over the League case, in March ruled the law requiring otherwise eligible voters to present a government-issued photo identification before being allowed to cast their ballots was an unconstitutional burden.

Dane County Judge David Flanagan, who had issued his own temporary order enjoining enforcement earlier that month in a suit brought by the Milwaukee branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, invalidated the law in July after a bench trial.

First-term Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, signed the voter ID measure into law last year.

“This court recognizes the importance of the issues raised in this case and NAACP,” the state’s supreme court said in its ruling Wednesday in the League of Women Voters case. “The two cases share a commonality of subject matter, and if we were to grant review, we would hear oral argument in both cases on the same day and would take both matters under advisement at the same time.”

Because appellate briefing is not yet complete in the NAACP suit, the high court said, it is “not feasible” to hear them both at this time.

Van Hollen said in a statement that he was “very disappointed” by the high court decisions.
“The Voter ID law protects the integrity of our elections,” he said. “The result is that the injunctions against the Voter ID law remain in effect and will, in all likelihood, be in effect for the upcoming November elections.”


Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.

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