State Supreme Court will not take up appeals on voter ID law

MADISON (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, April 16th refused to take up appeals of rulings blocking a new state law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. The law was blocked by lower courts for the presidential primary election on April 3rd, and the future of the law in Wisconsin remains a question.

The court did not explain why it was not taking up either appeal in separate one page orders issued Monday. Four of the seven justices had to agree to take the cases for the high court to hear them. Two separate state appeals courts last month had asked the court to take up the appeals and consolidate the cases in order to speed resolution.

FOX6 News spoke with Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen regarding the Supreme Court's decision Monday. "I'm a little surprised because I think the Supreme Court should be well aware of the fact that we're in two different courts of appeal, that ultimately this is probably going to rise to their level anyway. Not accepting the certification, I think, is putting off the inevitable. I was really surprised that they didn't accept it," Van Hollen said.

The Supreme Court decision came on the same day a trial on the Voter ID law began in Dane County Circuit Court. The trial will determine whether a judge will make a temporary injunction against the law permanent, and is expected to last five days. The case being tried involves the NAACP and Voces de la Frontera -- groups that have each filed lawsuits against the law, claiming it promotes voter disenfranchisement.

The trial is going before Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan. Flanagan last month issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect. Flanagan has recently come under criticism after it was revealed he signed a recall petition against Governor Scott Walker.

A permanent injunction was also issued last month by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess in a separate lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters. In their orders blocking the law, the judges said the law was an unconstitutional impairment to the right to vote. The law's opponents say it will disenfranchise minority groups, the poor, students and senior citizens who lack the required photo identification.

The law requiring a photo ID to vote was passed by the Republican-majority Legislature to help prevent voter fraud. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is defending the Voter ID Law and Walker, who signed it. The DOJ questions how opponents of the law got their examples of potential voters who had difficulties getting photo IDs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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