May 8, 2016

Wisconsin Voting Rights Plaintiffs Seek to Admit Former Senators' Statements at Trial

Plaintiffs in the federal voting rights case, One Wisconsin Institute v. Nichol (U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin (Case 15-cv-324)) filed a motion on May 29 to introduce several public statements of two former Wisconsin state senators.

The statements by former State Senator Dale Schultz, and Wisconsin Congressman and former State Senator Glenn Grothman are argued to be relevant to the Voting Rights Act claims made in this case because they establish racial appeals and objectives to suppress voting of ethnic groups, among other objectives demonstrating a racial animus by laws enacted with intent by a legislative body.

Reads one point in the motion:

Plaintiffs seek to introduce a video and transcript (the latter of which is attached as Exhibit 5) of an April 5, 2016 interview in which Rep. Grothman, when asked about the fact that Republicans have not been able to win presidential races in Wisconsin since 1984, said, 'Well, I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up and now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well.' (p.3)

Much of the motion is an legal evidentiary argument addressing exceptions to the hearsay rule.

The federal trial is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

The pre-trial motion follows a letter sent by Wisconsin’s Democratic congressional delegation urging 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," (Pocan, Press Release) (Mal Contends).

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