Republican lawmakers raise questions about Dane County judge's ruling

MADISON – The voter ID bill is stopped for now, but the Senate majority leader is raising questions about what role the recall played in the judge's ruling.

"This is the latest round in myself or others tangling with Dane County judges,” said State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). “There's 17 judges and each and every one panders to the left here because that's how they get elected and reelected, and I think what you saw yesterday was a pure political move by a circuit court judge to trash the idea of photo id in an effort to garner some votes."

Fitzgerald said the temporary injunction blocking the voter ID law is suspect because Dane County judge David Flanagan signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker, who is listed as a defendant in the case.

"All 17 of these judges are just waiting for the next idea to come along so they can trash it," Fitzgerald said.

Bill Foust, Dane County's chief judge disputed that characterization. In an interview with FOX6 News, he said Dane County judges do not let their political opinions enter into legal cases. “There are 17 other judges and they don't all fit in one little pigeon hole,” he said. “There's not a niche that is a 'Dane County judge.'

Foust also signed the Walker recall petition, bust he said in the voter ID case the signature had no impact on the ruling. “I don't think it's a big deal where there's no personal claim being made against the person who is the defendant, if there was a personal claim and the judge had done that he would have to disclose and maybe recuse,” he said. “Here the defendant is named simply because he's the governor of the state with a challenge to a state statute . It would have been better had there been a disclosure.")

And that's the argument democratic lawmakers are making. "This has nothing to do with Scott Walker, this is about a piece of legislation on an individuals right to vote,” said State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

Fitzgerald said he believes the voter ID law will be restored on appeal because the case raised ethical questions about Judge Flanagan. “How can it not be a conflict of interest? I have no idea how he could honestly judge this case."

J.B. Van Hollen said he'll “move quickly” to being this before an appellate court and he says he expects the law to be in place for the April elections.