Civil rights advocates want the Supreme Court to step back into the fight over voting rights, urging the Roberts Court to act soon and strike down Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law or risk getting caught in the “untenable position of referring voter ID disputes in the run-up to the November 2016 election.” Wisconsin Act 23 mandates that voters show one of nine specific forms of identification in order to vote either by absentee ballot or in person. Wisconsin lawmakers passed the law more than three years ago, but because of ongoing legal challenges to its constitutionality, the restrictions have only been enforced once in a state primary election, in 2012. Two state courts blocked the law’s enforcement in 2012 on the grounds that it violates the state constitution. Meanwhile, a federal trial judge in April ruled that the law violates the U.S. Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
A conservative panel of judges from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in September issued a temporary order allowing the state to enforce the ID requirements in the November 4 general election. Then, in October, the Roberts Court stepped in and blocked the law from being enforced in the midterm elections.
In its latest filing, the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of United Latin American Citizens, in a joint petition filed with the Advancement Project, argues that the fight over Wisconsin’s voter ID law “raises recurring questions of fundamental national importance,” which makes Supreme Court review appropriate at this time.
The petition alleges that Wisconsin’s law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and that the Seventh Circuit’s decision to allow the law to go into effect was based on a “profound” misreading of the civil rights law.