Wisconsin Is Ground Zero in the Voter ID Fight
January 20, 2015
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 16, 2015 at The Daily Caller.
Wisconsin is not only an electoral battleground state, it is ground zero in the fight to ensure honest elections.
Failing to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 or to defeat him in the 2014 election, union-backed legal groups are continuing their efforts to try to make voter fraud easier to commit.
Rebuffed by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a petition at the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to overturn Wisconsin’s Voter ID law. On Thursday, Attorney General Brad Schimel’s communications director Anne E. Schwartz responded to an email, saying only that, “We will continue to defend the Wisconsin Voter ID Law.”
Enacted in 2011, Act 23 requires voters to show one of several forms of photo identification before voting.
Wisconsin is one of 17 states that have added a voter ID law following the Supreme Court’s upholding of Indiana’s photo ID law in 2008. A total of 34 states now require some form of ID to vote, according to the ACLU’s petition.
Before the law could take effect, the ACLU sued and won in a U.S. District Court, whose verdict the 7th Circuit overturned on appeal in October. However, the Supreme Court granted a stay, preventing the law from being enforced during the November 4 election.
In Ruthelle Frank v. Scott Walker et al., and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) v. Thomas Barland, et al., the ACLU alleges that the state’s photo ID law violates the Equal Protection Clause because it “burdens the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of the state’s voters,” and “the law does not advance a legitimate state interest.”
The suit follows the well-worn scenario crafted by the liberal Brennan Center at New York University, which contends that requiring voters to prove that they are who they say they are before casting a ballot serves only to “suppress the minority vote.”
Curiously, this logic, adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., does not extend to other instances in which IDs are required. For instance, Mr. Holder has not charged the airlines with “suppressing minority flying” because IDs are required for boarding. Nor has he accused liquor store owners of “suppressing minority drinking” for asking all patrons to show a photo ID.
When banks ask for photo IDs to cash checks or to open accounts, are they engaging in “banking suppression?”
As George Will noted the other day in a column listing questions that should be asked of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, “Visitors to the Justice Department are required to present photo IDs. Will you — we will be watching with a fine-toothed comb — plan to end this ‘visit suppression’?”