Supreme Court turns away challenge to Wisconsin voter ID law

By Associated Press

Supreme Court BuildingMADISON, Wis. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law, after having blocked the state from requiring photo IDs in November’s general election.

The justices’ action means the state is free to impose the voter ID requirement in future elections, but Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said it won’t be enforced for an election two weeks from now.


The decision is further evidence that the court put the law on hold last year only because the election was close at hand and absentee ballots already had been mailed with no notification of the need to present photo IDs.

The court did not comment on its order.

Early in-person absentee voting began on Monday for an April 7 election, similar to last year when the law was blocked, and absentee ballots have already been mailed without notification that photo IDs would be required.

“Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election,” Schimel said in a statement. “The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections – this decision is final.”

His decision came less than two hours after the American Civil Liberties Union filed an emergency motion with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago asking that the law remain blocked through the upcoming election because there isn’t enough time to implement it before then.

Having it take effect now “would cause all kind of confusion,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights project. Ho did not immediately respond to a message seeking his reaction to Schimel’s decision.

A state Supreme Court justice will be elected in the spring election. Voters will also decide whether to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to change how the chief justice of the state Supreme Court is decided. There are also dozens of local races on the ballot.

Wisconsin was one of four states in which a dispute over voting rules reached the Supreme Court last fall. The other states were North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Of the four states, only Wisconsin’s new rules were blocked.

Wisconsin’s photo ID law has been a political flashpoint since Republican legislators passed it in 2011 and Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law. The GOP argues the mandate is a common sense step toward reducing election fraud. Democrats maintain that in-person voter fraud is extremely rare and that the law is really meant to disenfranchise voters who tend to vote Democrat and who may be more likely to lack proper ID, such as the poor, minorities and the elderly.

Republicans who support the law hailed the court’s decision as a victory for voters, while the League of Women Voters said it was disappointed that the challenge would not be heard.

“The last thing we need is laws that erect barriers for people who have been good voters for decades,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

The law was in effect for the February 2012 primary but subsequent legal challenges put it on hold and it hasn’t been in place for any election since.

The ACLU and allied groups persuaded a federal judge in Milwaukee to declare the law unconstitutional last year. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court refused to disturb that ruling on Monday.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.


One response

  1. Senator_Blutarsky

    well just bully bully for WisCONsin………….I hope this little issue just passed and SIGNED by their fake Governor, get to see a court challenge-

    Wisconsin Police to Begin Forcibly Taking DNA for ALL Misdemeanor Convictions

    ( Imbedded video link at bottom of article, from local TV station )

    Madison, Wisc. – Starting April 1st, felons will no longer be the only ones in the state of Wisconsin to have their DNA forcibly taken. The state is expanding its DNA collection regime to include ALL criminal misdemeanor convictions.

    The new law being implemented is expected to exponentially increase the number of samples being analyzed in Madison. The current number of DNA profiles created, from the felons’ samples, ranges from 10,000-12,000 per year.

    Of those cases, 550 positive hits were made on unsolved cases, according to Fox 6.

    The number of samples is expected to potentially increase to an estimated 60,000 samples being collected per year. Police make the case that perhaps thousands of unsolved crimes could be solved.

    “We will save lives. We will save people from becoming sexual assault victims, shooting victims because of the evidence that is collected and out there,” said Brian O’Keefe, with the Department of Justice.

    But the infringement upon individual liberties didn’t go unnoticed.

    Currently, every time a new felon is convicted, a DNA sample is taken. The sample is tested at the State Crime Lab, creating a DNA profile. Police then input this data into a database and attempt to see if that DNA was found at the scene of any unsolved crimes.

    Rep. David Craig (R-Big Bend) made the very important point that for the first time in Wisconsin’s history, DNA would be taken from suspects who have not been convicted, but are accused of a violent crime.

    “I think there is a strong contingent of us that say before they have their due process exhausted in the court system, they should maintain something as personal as DNA. We have a job to balance security, and safety versus individual liberty for those who have not had their day in court,” Rep. Craig said.

    The idea of taking a person’s DNA without a conviction was first brought forth by Governer Scott Walker in 2013, but it did not sit well with many conservative Republicans. As a compromise, a list of offenses for which DNA could be collected upon arrest was reduced to “just” the most violent crimes on the book.

    Rightly the ACLU claimed the compromise did not nearly go far enough.

    “One’s personal autonomy, one’s privacy can get eroded by a thousand cuts,” ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty said.

    The ACLU says they have a number of serious problems with the new law. The most pressing issue being privacy concerns — specifically for those whose DNA is collected, but a conviction never happens.

    “The state of Wisconsin is not ready for this,” Ahmuty said.

    The state claims that samples collected upon arrest will only be tested after establishing probable cause and that if a suspect is never convicted, after a year, the sample would be removed.

    “Frankly, I wonder if the criminal justice system is up to the task,” Ahmuty said.

    In a controversial Supreme Court ruling in 2013, the precedent was set that says the state can take a citizen’s DNA upon arrest.

    It seems the state falsely looks upon DNA much the same as a simple, unique identifier such as a fingerprint. The problem with this line of thinking is the that vast amounts of the most private data contained in DNA must also be relinquished to the state.

    There seems something inherently wrong with having to give up the actual code that makes us, as it is the most private thing that can exist. It has the power potentially to recreate you. Obviously DNA is so much more than just a simple and unique identifier.

    Should something as precious as our individual code of life ever be allowed to be taken by the state?


    “An Avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he a establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
    – Thomas Paine (1795)

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