Wis. voter ID lawsuits headed to Supreme Court

MADISON (AP) --Two lawsuits challenging Wisconsin's law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls are headed directly to the state Supreme Court.

The big question voters and city clerks are looking to have answered in advance of Tuesday's presidential primary election in Wisconsin is, will voters need their ID to vote?

Two separate appeals courts on Wednesday sent appeals of lower court decisions blocking the law directly to the Supreme Court. One lawsuit was brought by the NAACP's Milwaukee branch and Voces de la Frontera, an immigrants' rights group. The other was
brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Earlier this month, two different Dane County circuit court judges issued injunctions blocking the law before Tuesday's presidential primary. The state Department of Justice appealed both decisions to the appeals court, which sent the cases to the Supreme Court.

The law's opponents say it will disenfranchise minority groups, the poor, students and senior citizens who lack photo identification.

Marquette University law professor and former state Supreme Court justice Janine Geske says she's watching the journey of the Voter ID Law with fascination. "If I were to guess, the court is not going to act and lift the injunctions before next Tuesday, but it could," Geske said.

If the Supreme Court decides to take the cases and stay the injunctions, the injunctions will not be in effect, and the Voter ID Law will be in effect. That means voters will need to show a valid ID at the polls Tuesday.

Geske says normally, the court orders briefs, schedules them and sets the oral arguments - possibly for next term. However, Geske says they could expedite the case. "They might very well do it in this case, because of the impact on elections that are coming up - the recall election, and potential elections after that," Geske said.

UW-Milwaukee Professor of Governmental Affairs Mordecai Lee says he expects the case will be expedited. Lee says when the collective bargaining bill was before the court, the Republican-controlled Legislature said it needed action by a certain deadline, and the decision came about an hour before. "Clearly from an ideological point of view there's a 4-3 majority for a conservative, not with a capital 'c', but with a small 'c' perspective. It's just that  they're not above the fray anymore as a result of the collective bargaining decision. They're in the fray. They're a political institution, so I think we're going to see very quick action," Lee said.

Geske said she believes we could hear from the Supreme Court on whether it will take the cases in the next week or two, if not sooner.

Previous stories:

Wisconsin DOJ appeals judge's ruling to stop Voter ID

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen speaks out on Voter ID issue

Judge upholds injunction in Voter ID lawsuit

Judge refuses to lift temporary injunction against Voter ID Law

Second judge strikes down Voter ID Law