State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday appealed a two-week-old decision striking down Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Van Hollen had promised an appeal as soon as U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee blocked the voter ID law for violating the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act. Monday’s filing puts the case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Van Hollen also asked Adelman to suspend his ruling while the appeal proceeds, saying his decision was too broad. In his ruling, Adelman expressed skepticism that any voter ID law could pass court muster because minorities have a more difficult time than whites obtaining photo identification. He wrote that he would review any changes to the voter ID law that state lawmakers may make — something attorneys in Van Hollen’s Department of Justice said the judge doesn’t have the authority to do.
“By entering such an excessively broad injunction, the court aims to give itself the power of a second Wisconsin governor, equipped with the authority to judicially ‘veto’ future voter photo ID laws that the Wisconsin Legislature might enact. The court has no such power,” wrote Clayton Kawski, an assistant attorney general.
Kawski also contended Adelman wrongly applied the Voting Rights Act by ruling that that federal statute did not allow election practices that were likely to create more barriers for minorities than whites. The Voting Rights Act is focused on the actual results of election measures, not the likelihood of what they might do, Kawski wrote.
Adelman’s ruling dealt with two challenges that he considered in a joint trial in November.