Voter ID Is Hardly a Moot Issue, Wis. Justice Says

     MADISON, Wis. (CN) – The capitulation by Wisconsin’s highest court on the state’s voter ID law inspired a stinging dissent from its chief justice.
     Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said the Wisconsin Supreme Court improperly dismissed a motion for reconsideration Wednesday.
     “The legality and implementation of the voter ID law are very much alive and important to the people of the state, even though the majority of this court apparently wishes the matter would go away,” her one-page dissent states.
     The Milwaukee Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others had moved for such reconsideration after the Wisconsin Supreme Court lifted an injunction against the law.
     In dismissing the motion, the state’s high court called the filing untimely. The order also refused a request for enlargement of time for the same reason.
     In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Oct. 9 decision to let Wisconsin enforce the voter ID law during the upcoming general election, Wisconsin’s high court also deemed the reconsideration petition moot.
     Chief Justice Abrahamson disagreed just as she did on the court’s original decision to lift injunctions against the law.
     Insisting that the status of the voter ID law “is not final and is fluid,” Abrahamson emphasized that the “emergency rule adopted to render the voter ID law constitutional was, as of yesterday, still in flux.”
     At issue is the fact that Wisconsin already disseminated absentee ballots without a notification of the voter ID requirement.
     Wisconsin’s Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had previously intended to “repair” that problem, but Abrahamson said “it is now reported that the attorney general will not” take such steps after all.
     “Retaining the fully briefed request for a stay, instead of dismissing it, allows this court to be prepared, if necessary, to rule on a stay of implementing the new voter ID law should circumstances change (as they have several times over the past few weeks),” the dissent concludes (parentheses in original).

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