A state appeals court overturned a Dane County Circuit Court ruling Thursday morning, handing proponents of the state’s controversial voter ID law a minor legal victory.

The ruling from the 4th District Court of Appeals came in a case brought by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. The league argued the law passed in 2011 violated a provision of the Wisconsin Constitution that guarantees every person the right to vote.

Thursday's ruling, however, will not result in the voter ID law being enacted. Three other lawsuits are still pending that challenge the legality of the law.

In the other case brought in state courts, Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group, and the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP won a permanent injunction against the voter ID law in Dane County Circuit Court. The state Department of Justice has asked for an appeals court review of the ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens have filed separate lawsuits challenging the law in federal court and those cases are pending.

“Today’s court decision is a limited one,” Andrea Kaminski, the League’s executive director, said Thursday.

“The court of appeals declined to find that the voter ID law is unconstitutional in the absence of evidence that the requirement impairs the rights of qualified citizens to vote," she added. "Such evidence was not presented in this case. Thus, the decision does not resolve the constitutionality of the law. Other cases are still pending in state and federal courts that address the impairment issue.”

The state agreed on the limited reach of the ruling.

“From the start, we have defended the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s voter ID law. While today’s decision is an important step toward full vindication of the law, we recognize that other challenges are still pending that address different issues,” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in a statement. “We will continue to defend the law and look forward to favorable decisions in those other cases as well.”

The appeals court judges wrote: "We reject the League’s additional, implied argument that the requirement is unconstitutional under the Article III right to suffrage because it imposes a restriction that is, on its face, so burdensome that it effectively denies potential voters their right to vote, and is therefore constitutionally 'unreasonable.' We express no opinion as to whether such an argument might have merit if supported by fact finding regarding the burdens imposed. However, in this facial challenge in which the League does not rely on any fact finding or evidentiary material, the implied argument falls short."

Kaminski said the League “is proud to have launched a legal challenge to the law, which erects barriers to citizen participation in government,” adding that the group is "considering our options with regard to further legal review.”

The voter ID law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, drastically changed state law by requiring voters to show photo identification before casting their ballot.

Republicans argue the law is needed to prevent voter fraud. Yet according to the state Department of Justice, fewer than two dozen cases of voter fraud have been prosecuted in the past decade.

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(14) comments

everclear
everclear

Why doesn't JB Van Hollen investigate WEDC and all the missing money. Class 1 felonies were committed. Oh the money was taken by Walker donors NO PROBLEM. The AG's office is the same as our bought and paid for Supreme Court

Wis_taxpayer
Wis_taxpayer

deezus: I'm just curious, what your reaction would have been if after all the votes had been counted Prosser was leading Kloppenburg to win the election. Then suddenly a mysterious bag of votes shows up in Dane county putting Kloppenburg ahead to win..... and to top it all off the voter turnout for Dane county ends up being 105% in an election for a Judge.

MadCityYokal
MadCityYokal

[haiku]
De-Vote-lution:
Walker's Strategy
Making It Harder To Vote
Such A Smart-ALEC

deezus
deezus

It isn't a burden or suppression. It is an inconvenience to the tiny minority of people that don't have IDs. They can take 2-3 hours out of their lives to do what most everybody else has done and get an ID.

Wis_taxpayer
Wis_taxpayer

Gee great argument... let's find something that a number of Democrats don't have like a drivers license, which cost money to obtain, because they live in the City and use mass transit and make that a requirement to vote..... Well let's see, let's find something that a number of Republicans don't have and cost money to obtain and make that a requirement to vote... sounds fair to me!

classicagain
classicagain

Hey Taxpayer. Did you know that the id is free. Probably not because you are to stubborn to read it. Your argument is hilarious. You think the vote is so important and a great right which it is then a short trip to a dmv for a free id should be easy. And you should want only those eligible to vote doing it.

251001
251001

deezus,

The fact is that voters experience much more inconvenience in many cases, than just having to spend an extra 2-3 hours out of their lives---the point is that the New Voter ID laws are not even necessary, and that, the types of voter fraud which are truly effective (such as deceptive robocalls providing false information about the times and places that polls are open etc.) are in no way effectively prevented by the new photo ID laws!

The reason the courts find little evidence to verify that the new laws actually represent unfair impediments placed on many voters (google Ruthelle Frank) is simply because such IDs have not yet been used in major Wisconsin elections---a legal paradox and a catch 22.

Even in cases where voters have reacted by doing everything needed to keep their voting voices heard--such as waiting in lines for many hours after early voting is no longer allowed, the mere fact that a reactionary vote by these voters as a result of outrage over the new laws, does not justify those laws, even if more minorities make damn sure to vote despite suppression efforts.Suppression is suppression, even if only one person is prevented from voting due to unwarranted requirements.

The new photo ID requirements and the steps needed to attain them, are so clearly unconstitutional, that it is an outrage that they have ever been considered at all!

Our right to vote guarantees that ordinary citizens will have the right to determine who and how our government is run, and that, they will have a voice in determining our future. As such voting is much more important than obtaining a fishing license of a library card etc. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise! We should be working to allow more people to vote---not less!

Wis_taxpayer
Wis_taxpayer

"Republicans argue the law is needed to prevent voter fraud. Yet according to the state Department of Justice, fewer than two dozen cases of voter fraud have been prosecuted in the past decade."

I like this argument the Republicans make.... so if there are fewer than two dozen voters disenfranchised, then the Republicans need to pass new voter laws allowing more people to vote with less restrictions and more voting opportunities, more early voting, more voting machines in large cities and in the poorest neighborhoods.

This is the argument from the Republicans correct? They claimed they were doing this to prevent massive voter fraud.... so two dozen cases in 10 years is apparently by their definition massive voter fraud, so two dozen cases of voter disenfranchisement should carry the same weight for an argument of massive voter disenfranchisement to make voting easier and more accessible correct?

fohledu
fohledu

Your comments are like saying people don't cheat on their taxes. Most people do, but very few are caught.

Bender
Bender

You cheat on your taxes? I don't, nor do I know anyone else who has ever told me they did.

geo
geo

Did you pay sales tax on your internet shopping? I know a tax cheat who didn't.

nan3
nan3

I've never cheated on my taxes either-just pay them, on time, used to be the American way.
Where is your evidence that "most people" cheat?

classicagain
classicagain

nan3 Bender if you truly believe people don't cheat on taxes you are very naive.

Beingbucky
Beingbucky

"Until we have a one-party system in which only card-carrying Republicans are allowed to vote," JB'S then said under his breath.

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