Supreme Court Decision Brings Wisconsin A Step Closer to Suppression-Free Elections


Flashback: Wisconsin Republicans rammed through Act 23 in May 2011, by cutting off debate and calling the vote to cheers of “Shame!”

The Wisconsin state Supreme Court said on this morning that they will not take up two cases pertaining to Act 23, the Wisconsin voter suppression law rammed through by the Republican-controlled legislature last May.

The court’s terse orders send the cases back to two different courts of appeals. The appeals courts had said the Supreme Court should take the cases right away because of their significance. Now, the appeals courts will have to render their own decisions on the cases.

The cases could then go to the Supreme Court, and are widely expected to be decided by that court.

But in the short term, the rulings mean the voter ID law will remain blocked. The court issued its orders just three weeks before the May 8 primary for Democrats to pick a candidate to run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the June 5 recall election.

Act 23 was knocked on its feet when two Wisconsin judges issued injunctions against the law, at least temporarily keeping the voter suppression law from going into effect.  ”Without question, where it exists, voter fraud corrupts elections and undermines our form of government,” wrote Dane County Judge Richard Niess in his opinion, “But voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the same monster.”

Now, Walker’s Department of Justice, led by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, wants the appeals court to lift the injunctions while it considers the cases against Act 23.

We really hope the injunctions stay in effect, and that the very real, very valid Constitutional arguments against Act 23 eventually succeed in overturning the law in court. Experiences of citizens in Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and other states show that these “voter ID” laws serve only to disenfranchise thousands of voters – particularly minorities, women, seniors, and the working poor.

Not to mention that these laws blatantly target the voting rights certain demographics in a corporate-backed, ALEC-coordinated effort to reduce the number of eligible voters in time for the 2012 election.

No doubt that Walker and Van Hollen want the injunctions lifted before voters sound off on their agenda in the June 5 recall election. One can imagine that on June 5, they would love to have as few Wisconsinites to exercise their voting rights as possible.

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