May 31, 2013

No Voter ID Remains Law of Land; Pro-democracy Forces Get No Set-back from Narrow Ruling

Blacks voting in rural Alabama - They just won't quit, to the
chagrin and horror of Scott Walker and the Republican Party.
Today, Alabama Republicans says they salute
Scott Walker's Alabama Values.
No cause for alarm for pro-democracy forces in the Wisconsin voter ID appellate court's narrowly tailored decision. This GOP voter obstruction effort remains unconstitutional, pending the big show-down at the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison issued a unanimous decision finding the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin's challenge to the Republican voter ID law, Wisconsin Act 23,  is not unconstitutional on its face, as had been ruled in 2012 by a circuit judge.

The League's challenge is a heavy legal assault against the statute—a "facial challenge" in which the state statute as written on its face is asserted to be unconstitutional, opposed to how the statute would be applied in practice.

"In sum, the League has presented no basis to conclude that it has met its heavy burden in this facial constitutional challenge," reads the appellate decision in part. This appellate decision does not affect another circuit court injunction preventing the voter ID act from taking effect. Two other federal legal challenges have been filed against the Wisconsin voter ID act as well.

In federal court, the landmark case, Crawford et al. v. Marion County (Indiana) Election Board et al. (no. 07–21, 2008), is regarded as controlling other voter ID cases wherein federal challenges have been made to other state Republican laws seen as unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.

This is significant because the plaintiffs in Crawford challenged a Indiana law (similar to Wisconsin's) as unconstitutional on its face under the weak United State Constitution, which has no affirmative right to vote for American citizens in its text, as opposed to the Wisconsin Constitution.

Wisconsin is better for voters because of the Wisconsin Constitution. A facial challenge to GOP voter obstruction statutes may fail in federal court, but ought not to fail in Wisconsin courts.

As for the merits of the appellate decision, consider a voter who is:
  • constitutionally qualified to vote
  • registered to vote
  • has been voting for years
Under the 2011 GOP's voter ID law, a registered, constitutionally qualified voter goes the polls to vote, vested with this franchise to vote, walks to the polling table as she or he has for years, but under the GOP's voter ID law (were it not legally prevented from taking effect under Judge David Flanagan's order) is now stopped from voting by the GOP's new statutory condition to cast a vote, if she or he does not possess the GOP-prescribed, new voter ID.

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (1981-2006) warned recently against politicians in judicial robes issuing partisan decisions solely to benefit secret interests, subverting the rule of law.

Justice O'Conner may with equal justice have also warned against the obtuse, uncomprehending Wisconsin appellate Justices Lundsten, Higginbotham, and Blanchard who evidently do not relate the text of Act 23 to the 100,000s of Wisconsin citizens like 85-year-old Ruthell Frank who would report to the polls as she has for over 60 years in Brokaw, Wisconsin and now be told she is not qualified to vote under Act 23, because she does not have the additional qualification of a driver's license or other GOP-prescribed ID.

Why the three appellate justices fail to comprehend that Act 23 is not on it face "sufficiently narrow to avoid needless and significant impairment of the right to vote," as Judge David Flanagan writes in striking down the statute in a different case on Act 23, is mystifying to those who regard the Wisconsin Constitution as a strong protector of the sovereign people of Wisconsin [as noted in Wis. Const, art III, section 1] Wood v. Baker, 38 Wis. 71: (August 1875)] Wisc. - Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Even the Wisconsin Republican Party's corrupt Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (Republican) who begged that the voter ID bill be reinstated before the 2012 presidential election has admitted the voter ID act will obstruct voters, warning in March 2012 that "those relying on the injunction (stopping the Voter ID Act from taking effect) may be left without an opportunity to obtain their IDs by the date of the election."

As noted here, the GOP and Van Hollen make a habit of trying to obstruct Wisconsin voters.

In 2008, Van Hollen after secretly consulting with the GOP proposed an exact match of voters' names in bureacracies' databases is a new condition to voting, a ridiculous argument that was tossed out of court never to see the light of court again after the 2008 presidential election.

Jurists contacted over the course of the years since 2011 have agreed with statements made on background, "I don't think they [the four Republican justices] will vote to uphold the [voter ID] law. It would be too blatant a partisan display."

I am not as sure as I was a year ago that I agree with this statement.

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