Wisconsin Supreme Court Set to Hear Arguments in Voter ID Lawsuit

Feb 24, 2014

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear two constitutional challenges to the law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls on Tuesday.
Credit Photo Phiend, Flickr

Another court battle begins Tuesday over Wisconsin’s Voter ID law. The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin initiated.

Gov. Walker signed the bill in May of 2011. It went into effect the following spring, but courts have blocked it, ever since.

The League of Women Voters was among the first to challenge the requirement that all voters present a government-issued photo ID. Executive Director Andrea Kaminski insists the mandate is unconstitutional.

“It places a heavier burden on certain population groups, certain groups of people who are less likely to have an acceptable, government-issued photo ID in their own name. That includes older people, disabled people, it includes women because women are more likely to change their names during their lifetime. It includes minorities and anybody who moves frequently,” Kaminski says.

A Dane County circuit judge sided with the League in 2012 and invalidated the law, but later, a state appeals court upheld the measure. Now the state Supreme Court will consider it.

Rick Esenberg is an attorney with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. It filed an informational brief in the case, advocating support for Voter ID. He predicts the state Dept. of Justice will prevail in defending the law.

“The Legislature has the power to enact reasonable regulations of elections. In this case, the purpose of the regulation is to assure that the individuals who are voting are in fact eligible to vote and are indeed the person who is on the registration rolls,” Esenberg says.

Esenberg says the state Supreme Court should issue a ruling by June. The high court is consolidating the League of Women Voters case with the suit the NAACP and immigrant rights group, Voces de la Frontera filed.

Meanwhile, two other groups challenging Voter ID still have a case pending in federal court. Judge Lynn Adelman held a trial in December on whether Voter ID violates the federal Voting Rights Act. He has yet to issue a ruling.