- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal to overturn Wisconsin’s voter identification law, upsetting civil rights and liberal groups that say the law discourages minorities from casting their ballot.

On Monday the justices said, without comment or explanation, that they would not hear an appeal aimed at overturning the voter ID law, which was signed into law in 2011 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 presidential contender.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately filed a motion for a stay so as to not allow the law to go immediately into effect.

The ACLU challenged the law — which requires voters to present photo identification before they cast their ballots — saying it violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act against discrimination in voting.

In a statement Monday, Mr. Walker praised the justices’ decision to let the law stand as “great news for Wisconsin voters” and “a common-sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Mr. Walker has defended the law against criticism that voter fraud is rare, saying it’s worthwhile if it stops one person from casting a fraudulent ballot.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s one, 100 or 1,000,” Mr. Walker said in a debate last October defending the law. “Among us, who would be that one person who would like to have our vote canceled out by a vote that was cast illegally?”

Last year, a federal district judge declared the Wisconsin law unconstitutional, but that was later overturned by a three-judge panel on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court blocked the law from taking effect ahead of last November’s midterm elections, but apparently only because absentee ballots had been mailed containing no information about the need to present photo identification.

ACLU Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho expressed concern that the Supreme Court decision contradicts a previous stance the court has taken in which it “made clear that states may not impose new requirements for voting in the weeks before Election Day.” Wisconsin’s next election — for a state Supreme Court position — is scheduled for April 7.

“The situation is even more compelling here, because absentee ballots have already been mailed out for the April election, and early in-person voting has begun,” Mr. Ho said. “Imposing a new restriction in the midst of an election will disenfranchise voters who have already cast their ballots. It is a recipe for disaster.”

Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the new law will not be implemented for the upcoming election because absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, according to a statement.

However, that law will be in place for future elections, Mr. Schimel said.

Voter identification laws have been passed in a number of Republican-governed states despite objections by Democrats, the ACLU and other groups who say the new rules are intended to deter the poor, minorities and college students. Those groups all are less likely to have the needed IDs and tend to support Democratic candidates.

• Maggie Ybarra can be reached at mybarra@washingtontimes.com.

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