Dane Co. judge temporarily stops new voter ID law

MADISON (AP) -- A Wisconsin judge on Tuesday granted a temporary injunction to groups trying to stop the state's controversial new voter identification law. Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan's decision to grant the injunction stops the law from being in effect for the state's April 3 presidential primary election.

The NAACP's Milwaukee branch and immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera filed the lawsuit last year. A five-day trial on whether there should be a permanent injunction is scheduled for April 16.

The NAACP's Milwaukee branch and Voces de la Frontera celebrated Tuesday, but Republicans are already making plans to appeal the judge's decision. They say Judge Flanagan signed a "recall Walker" petition. The Wisconsin Republican Party says they will be filing a complaint with the judicial commission, saying Judge Flanagan should have recused himself because he signed the petition.

Judge Flanagan is up for re-election in April. His campaign manager confirmed to FOX6 News Tuesday that the judge did sign the recall petition, which was circulated by his wife. Those behind the Voter ID lawsuit say signing the petition was Judge Flanagan's right. "He has the right to vote, and he has the right to sign petitions for candidates," Richard Saks, the attorney for Voces de la Frontera said.

"The legislation speaks for itself, and we've got a law that we think is constitutional, and I believe most of the people in the state of Wisconsin want to see photo IDs as part of the process," Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Milwaukee) said Tuesday.

Flanagan had first denied an injunction request in February, saying NAACP plaintiffs did not sufficiently demonstrate irreparable harm for an injunction. The NAACP's lawsuit included 40 affidavits describing plaintiffs' difficulties with complying with the law. But Flanagan at the time said the affidavits did not sufficiently demonstrate irreparable harm to justify the injunction. A hearing scheduled for April was supposed to focus on new plaintiff testimony.

Flanagan's motion orders the Government Accountability Board and Gov. Scott Walker to immediately cease any effort to enforce or implement the law pending the April 16 trial.

Government Accountability Board released a statement Tuesday saying it will suspend enforcement and implementation of the Voter ID Law. The GAB added that no decision has been made about a possible appeal, but says they will be consulting with the attorney general's office. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, which represented GAB in the case, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Voces de la Frontera attorney Richard Saks said he feels good about the decision. "This is a great day for the NAACP and for Voces de la Frontera. We know that it is not over," James Hall, NAACP Milwaukee branch president said Tuesday.

Voces de la Frontera has said the Voter ID Law will suppress voter turnout. "It's really about disenfranchisement. We want to make sure everybody's voice is heard, and particularly, the most vulnerable," Christine Neumann-Ortiz said.

Republicans say the fight is not over. They plan to appeal the judge's decision, claiming that Judge Flanagan should've recused himself from the case.

Governor Walker's office released a statement following the judge's decision Tuesday, saying: "Requiring photo ID to vote is common sense. Governor Walker looks forward to implementing common sense reforms that protect the electoral process."

There are four lawsuits against the state's new voter ID law. It went into effect in February. All of them are pending.

As of now the hold is temporary. The Wisconsin Department of Justice says it disagrees with the ruling and will likely pursue an appeal.

A trial is scheduled for April 16, which will decide whether the injunctions should be permanent.