May 3, 2016

Wisconsin Democratic Congressional Members Want DoJ Review of Voter ID Law

Republicans Block Voters in Continuing Effort
to Stay in Political Power
WASHINGTON, D.C. – "U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI 3), Gwen Moore (D-WI 4) and Mark Pocan (D-WI 2) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a review of Wisconsin’s voter identification requirements and consider bringing a legal challenge or join litigation in Wisconsin’s Eastern and Western District Courts."

So reads a press release dated May 2, 2016 by Wisconsin's entire Democratic Party congressional delegation.

Notes the press release:

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Wisconsin Congressional Democrats urge the Justice Department to conduct a review of Wisconsin’s potentially discriminatory voting requirements to determine whether they are consistent with the Voting Rights Act and federal constitutional protections for the right to vote. The members of Congress also call for a review of all the options available to the Department of Justice, including bringing a legal challenge or intervening in existing litigation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that eligible voters facing difficulty obtaining ID have the right to challenge the law as it applies to them. This issue is now back before Wisconsin’s Eastern District court. A separate challenge brought in the state’s Western District is scheduled to go to trial in May.

The two cases in federal court challenging the Wisconsin photo voter ID law are One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol (United States District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin (Case 15-cv-324—U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson)), and Frank v. Walker, (United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Case No. 11‐C‐01128—U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman))

The letter to the U.S. DoJ follows another admission by a national Republican that state voter ID laws are intended to obstruct voters who tend to vote non-Republican, (Graham, The Atlantic).

In Wisconsin U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R) continues to advocate for state photo voter ID laws while employing a novel pretense to being a champion of voting rights, (Mal Contends).

For a related analysis of Frank v. Walker and this case's status in the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, see Canning in The Brad Blog, particularly as Canning's piece focuses on Judge Frank Easterbrook and his ruling cited in the Wisconsin Democrats' letter.

Writes Canning:

Despite the likely encouraging benefits to voters in the new ruling, the new panel decision is, nonetheless, fraught with intellectual dishonesty. 'Plaintiffs now accept the propriety of requiring photo ID from persons who already have or can get it with reasonable effort,' Easterbrook writes, [p.4], 'while endeavoring to protect the voting rights of those who encounter high hurdles.'

Plaintiffs did not accept 'the propriety' of Wisconsin's Photo ID law because they were now convinced by Easterbrook's earlier reasoning. They advanced their alternative theory in this new challenge because they were forced to accept the premise of Easterbrook's earlier controversial panel decision thanks to a legal doctrine known as the law of the case. Once Easterbrook's earlier opinion became final, the plaintiffs could no longer make the argument that Wisconsin's photo ID law violated the Voting Rights Act or the U.S. Constitution per se. They were forced to argue that the specific issues now before the court --- VA identification cards and the rights of voters who could not 'obtain a qualifying photo ID with reasonable effort" --- had not been addressed by the earlier decision.

Easterbrook's mid-April opinion follows his October 2104 opinion in the same case that was heavily criticized by jurists around the nation, and described by Canning as "extraordinarily partisan, factually deficient, [and] riddled with errors ... ."

The bottom line is legislative Republicans want photo voter ID laws to stay in political power, and Republican judges like Frank Easterbrook are perfectly content to throw away their reputations for impartiality and diligence in service to the Republican Party.

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