Feb 21, 2014

Wisconsin Women Fight for Right to Vote at Supreme Court

The Wisconsin Republican Party's new banner - 
Corrupt, centralized, authoritarian, statist and
bigoted regime
"(A)s a matter of law under the Wisconsin Constitution, sacrificing a qualified elector's right to vote is not a reasonable exercise of the government's prerogative to regulate elections. ... Where does the Wisconsin Constitution say that the government, we, the people, created can simply cast aside the inherent suffrage right of any qualified elector on the wish and promise—even the guarantee—that doing so serves to prevent some unqualified individuals from voting?"

It doesn't. In fact, it unequivocally says the opposite. The right to vote belongs to all Wisconsin citizens who are qualified electors, not just the fortunate majority for whom Act 23 poses little obstacle at the polls."
- Judge Richard Niess. Decision and Order Granting Summary Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction of Wisconsin Voter ID law on March 12, 2012
Even as Ohio, Wisconsin, and other GOP-controlled states advance bills to make voting more difficult, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and allies head to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to fight for the right to vote against a voter obstruction law, Act 23 or the Photo Voter ID.

"We are confident that we have a strong case based on clear language in the state constitution, and we are proud that because of the injunctions, no citizen was disenfranchised by the voter law in five elections in 2012 and 2012," said Melanie G. Raney, president of the League.

The Wisconsin Constitution, Article III, Section 1 reads:  "Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district," an expansive guarantee to vote that has been under attack since Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans assumed control of the executive and legislative branches of Wisconsin government in 2011.

Wisconsin's Voter ID law remains enjoined by Wisconsin state courts. The state cases to be heard are League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker.

Arguments as scheduled to be heard in the ornate Supreme Court room in the Madison state capitol at 9:45 A.M.; February 25. Court room doors open at 9:00 A.M.

WisconsinEye is tentatively scheduled to live stream the arguments on its website online, and on Charter Cable Channel 995 and Time Warner Channel 363.

A holding that Wisconsin's Voter ID law—that effectively denies the franchise to vote for many Wisconsin is constitutional were it not enjoined—would be a spectacular ruling that would bring outrage from the legal and civil rights communities now under political and legal assault.

The League case features a circuit court opinion that Act 23 is unconstitutional on its face, a ruling overturned by a state appellate panel in an opinion written by Judge Brian Blanchard. Voting advocates see this as no bad harbinger.

"(I)n a lengthy footnote, Judge Blanchard distinguished the (League facial challenge) case from another challenge to the law, filed by the NAACP and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, that provides more extensive evidence that a voter ID requirement would "severely burden a significant number of qualified voters but is not reasonably necessitated or designed to deter fraud or otherwise effect an important government interest," notes Brendan Fisher at PRWatch.

Blanchard's opinion has been roundly criticized and likely will not figure into the legal resolution of the case, though Republicans often cite the opinion.

An increasingly partisan and Republican Legislative Reference Bureau improperly notes the League appellate opinion in added partisan spin in a half-baked annotation of the Wisconsin government's online state constitution's Suffrage section.

Even the published text of Wisconsin's Constitution is not safe from the Republicans' efforts to sanitize public documents of perceived anti-GOP bias. In this instance, the plain language of Wisconsin's expansive Suffrage (voting) guarantees.

The state cases are being heard as two federal cases are under deliberation in federal court.

post-trial brief requesting a federal injunction has been filed after the trial of two consolidated cases arguing violations of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

So even if a radical anti-voting ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court were to occur, it is likely that a federal injunction will be granted after the November 2013 federal trial that was a judicial rout of anti-voting forces.

"The credible evidence convincingly proved that Act 23 will impose harsh and widespread burdens on voters. Virtually all of the factual testimony - of Plaintiffs, other voters, non-parties who provide assistance to voters, as well as Defendants and state employees called adversely by  Plaintiffs - went essentially unchallenged by Defendants. All this evidence compels one conclusion:  Act 23 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act ("VRA"), 42 U.S.C. 1973, and the Fourteenth and Twenty -Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and must be enjoined."

Frank v. Walker Post-trial brief challenging Wisconsin Voter ID Law. Act 23—passed with unanimous GOP support, unanimous Democratic opposition and unanimous opposition from civil rights and voting rights citizen groups.

In federal court last November, the ACLU and pro-voting attorneys were legal masters. The ACLU website describes the stakes:

"The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit charging that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right – the right to vote. Voter ID laws are the most common type of voter suppression legislation moving through state legislatures across the country as part of a nationwide attack on the right to vote."

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