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Thursday, March 15, 2012

 5:13 PM 

DOJ files appeal in voter ID cases

The Department of Justice requested today that two appellate courts stay both voter ID injunctions in advance of the spring elections.

DOJ filed an appeal with the District IV Court of Appeals, attempting to overturn the permanent injunction granted in the League of Women's Voters case. They've also requested a stay of Monday's permanent injunction and an expedited briefing process. The District IV court covers central and southwestern Wisconsin.

In that filing, DOJ argues that Dane County Judge Richard Niess misread the Article III, Section 2 of the state Constitution. The plaintiff and judge argued that section limits authority of the Legislature to enact laws governing voting and elections in Wisconsin and that the voter ID law went beyond that authority. DOJ argues that provision does not limit the Legislature's authority.

DOJ filed also a petition to appeal the temporary injunction in the NAACP case with the District II Court of Appeals, which covers areas of Waukesha and southeast Wisconsin excluding Milwaukee. They are also asking that court to expedite the process.

In that petition, DOJ argues that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Indiana voter ID case made clear that both procedural problems obtaining ID and financial difficulty in obtaining a birth certificate copy were not enough to completely invalidate the law.

They also argue that testimony by UW professor Kenneth Mayer showing 220,000 are without proper ID -- which Dane County Judge David Flanagan noted was a "substantial" portion of the population --says nothing about whether those people are prevented from obtaining it, something the state claims is not the case.

“We have made these appellate filings far ahead of the timelines contemplated for appeal so these matters may be reviewed and concluded in anticipation of the April election,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.

Flanagan today declined a DOJ request to stay his temporary injunction pending the appeal, rejecting DOJ's assertion that his ruling conflicted with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on voter ID.

In his decision, Flanagan wrote that his ruling could not conflict with the federal court ruling on the Indiana voter ID law, as that suit was based on the U.S. Constitution and this suit alleges a violation of the Wisconsin Constitution.

"The Crawford decision does not consider what is permitted or what is protected by the Wisconsin Constitution and thus it has little or no useful application in this matter," Flanagan wrote.

-- By Jason Smathers

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