The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider the state’s appeals of two rulings blocking Wisconsin’s new voter ID law from taking effect, leaving the issue to lower courts to decide even with recall elections against the governor and five other Republican officials only weeks away.The court didn’t explain why it wasn’t taking up the state’s appeals in its two single-page orders, which it issued hours after a trial began in one of the cases. The decision means the law, which would require voters to present photo identification at the polls, will remain blocked pending a ruling by one of the appeals courts, which could come before the May 8 primary elections or June 5 general elections. Gov. Scott Walker, the lieutenant governor and three Republican state senators are facing recall elections, and the seat of another GOP senate recall target who recently stepped down is also up for grabs.
Separate Dane County circuit court judges issued temporary and permanent injunctions last month blocking the law before Wisconsin’s April 3 primary election, ruling that it impeded the right to vote. The law’s opponents say it will disenfranchise minority groups, the poor, students and senior citizens who lack the required photo identification. But supporters, including the state Department of Justice which appealed both rulings, said the state has a constitutionally protected interest in making sure there is no fraud at elections.
Two separate state appeals courts last month asked the Supreme Court to take up the cases and consolidate them in order to speed resolution. Four of the seven justices had to agree to take the cases for the high court to hear them. Given the court’s rejection, the cases now go back to the appeals courts, either of which could rule before the recall elections.