Thursday, July 31, 2014

Activist Conservative Supreme Court Votes to advance GOP takeover of State on Domestic Partnership, Voter ID and Act 10.

It should come as no surprise that the state’s Supreme Court has a conservative activist bent to it. 

That’s why so many constitutional challenges have been made by Republicans, they can now get away with anything. Even worse, conservative voters can now simply point to “THE SUPREME COURT” as proof they've been right all along without thinking about the consequences. And anything that makes Scott Walker look like a constitutional scholar, well that’s just icing on the cake, and a little on the surreal side:
1. VOTER ID: A divided state Supreme Court,  4-3, ruled Wisconsin's voter ID law is in keeping with the state constitution, but tweaked a provision of the measure so people could get identification cards without having to pay anything. But to put the requirement in place, they must also overcome the federal litigation. (Preventing the mythical voter fraud problem and instilling the public with confidence in the voting system swayed the conservative activist justices.)

In both cases, the court found the law passed muster with the Wisconsin Constitution.

2. DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP: The Wisconsin Supreme Court Thursday upheld a 2009 law providing limited benefits to gay and lesbian couples. (There was no opposition to upholding the law as passed.)

3. ACT 10: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld, 5-2, Justice N. Patrick Crooks concurred but wrote separately, upheld Gov. Scott Walker's signature labor legislation Thursday in just one of the three major rulings issued by the court on union bargaining.
Despite some support by the more liberal justices, the real problem lies in the automatic conservative vote by the four activist justices. Any surprise not one bolted from the pack? 

State Senator Joe Leibham R-Sheboygan, author of Wisconsin’s voter ID law came right out and admitted to the courts conservative activism:
"I have stood strong against watering down this law and kept faith that this law can be upheld constitutional once we get it away from liberal activist judges.”
Gulp! Pushing aside reality, it's also a belief in, and a fear of fraud that made this outrageous decision possible. With all the talk about fraud, who are the ones "breeding distrust of our government?"
Bloomberg: The appeals court found “there was no evidence of ‘recent’ voter impersonation fraud in Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Drake Roggensack wrote for the majority. “That finding cannot overcome the state’s interest in preventing voter fraud.”

“Voters who fear the legitimate ballots will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised,” Drake Roggensack said. “Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government,” the judge wrote.
Additionally, here's an explanation for the still confusing 4-3, 5-2 vote on Voter ID:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in two cases, upholding the voter ID law 4-3 in one case and 5-2 in the other. In one of those cases, the court found what it called a "saving construction" of the law to keep it from being unconstitutional — a construction that would require the state to guarantee voters do not have to pay any government fees to get a state-issued ID card.

In dissent in both cases, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote that the court shouldn't be interpreting regulations that aren't before it. Because the burden on voters is severe, she said, and the state has not shown a compelling interest served by requiring photo ID, the voter ID law should be struck down as unconstitutional. "Today the court follows not James Madison — for whom Wisconsin's capital city is named —but rather Jim Crow — the name typically used to refer to repressive laws used to restrict rights, including the right to vote, of African-Americans," Abrahamson wrote for the dissenters in the second case.
Bottom Line: The point is, before Voter ID, we were required to present some form of identification from a long list of proofs, like a billing address on an envelope. But any ID would work. In this case, forget all that stuff, you MUST have a photo ID. That's an additional standard, as Justice Abrahamson pointed out in her dissent:
I apply the principles of the Wisconsin voting rights cases to the instant case and conclude that the League of Women Voters and the circuit court are correct: Act 23 unconstitutionally adds a qualification to the right to vote.

¶91 If a qualified voter fails to produce an Act 23 photo ID, Act 23 bars that person from voting even though that voter meets all the qualifications enumerated in the Wisconsin Constitution and meets all the statutory voter registration requirements. Thus Act 23 deprives qualified, registered Wisconsin voters of the right to vote, based solely on their failure to meet a legislatively established precondition to voting. Such deprivation amounts to an impermissible legislative amendment of the Wisconsin Constitution to add a voter qualification.

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