by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation writes in a Daily Signal column that the most recent courtroom developments in cases challenging state voter identification laws don’t bode well for voter ID critics.
Voter-ID opponents have suffered another stunning blow.
On Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction that had been issued against Wisconsin’s voter-ID law by a federal district court in April. The court told Wisconsin that it “may, if it wishes (and if it is appropriate under rules of state law), enforce the photo ID requirement in this November’s elections.” In reaction, Kevin Kennedy, the state’s top election official, said that Wisconsin would take all steps necessary “to fully implement the voter photo ID law for the November general election.” The appeals court issued its one-page opinion within hours of hearing oral arguments in the appeal.
As I explained in an NRO article in May, the district court judge, Lynn Adelman, a Clinton appointee and former Democratic state senator, had issued an injunction claiming the Wisconsin ID law violated the Voting Rights Act as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. Adelman made the startling claim in his opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2008 upholding Indiana’s voter-ID law as constitutional was “not binding precedent,” so Adelman could essentially ignore it.
However, that was too much for the Seventh Circuit. It pointed out, in what most lawyers would consider a rebuke, that Adelman had held Wisconsin’s law invalid “even though it is materially identical to Indiana’s photo ID statute, which the Supreme Court held valid in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).”
It was also obviously significant to the Seventh Circuit that the Wisconsin state supreme court had upheld the state’s voter-ID law in July, since the three-judge panel cited that decision, Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker, too. In fact, the appeals court said the state court decision had changed the “balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief.”
In other words, there was no justification for striking down a state voter-ID law that was identical to one that had been previously upheld by both the Supreme Court of the United States and that state’s highest court. …
… This is also another big defeat for Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced in July that the Justice Department would be intervening in this lawsuit. The Department lost a lawsuit that claimed South Carolina’s voter-ID law was discriminatory in 2012, and a federal judge recently refused to issue an injunction against North Carolina’s voter-ID law in another lawsuit filed by Justice.