I want to send an especially ecstatic congratulations to Tammy Baldwin, our first openly gay Senator.
It’s about time.
The incident happened Wednesday night when some unidentified men entered the shop and put a gun to Dalbir Singh head.
Election day is coming up fast!! Don’t forget to vote on June 5th, and get Walker the Weasel out of office!
Early voting for the Wisconsin recall election starts today. If you’re not certain you’ll be able to make it to the polls on June 5th, consider voting at your municipal clerk’s office between now and June 1st.
United Wisconsin is also involved, as is Move On.
This Saturday, April 28th, from 12:00 to 3:00 at the Capitol.
Pass it on, please.
*Part II will argue that the Voter I.D. law is also unconstitutional under the federal constitution, but probably won’t be posted for a few days because of reasons.
Let’s start at the source of the right to vote. The Wisconsin Constitution, in Article III, Section 1 states that: “[e]very United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district.”
Now, as you probably know, the plain language of most constitutions (including the federal constitution) does not take us very far. Take the First Amendment, for example. It gives us the right to speak freely, but doesn’t define “speech.” The Supreme Court has to define it for us.
For that reason, in order to determine whether the Wisconsin Voter I.D. law is unconstitutional, we need to look not only at the plain language of the Wisconsin Constitution, but also at Wisconsin Supreme Court precedent interpreting that language.
The Right to Vote is a Fundamental Right
“Voting is a constitutional right, Art. III section 1, [Wisconsin] Consti., and any statute that denies a qualified elector the right to vote is unconstitutional and void.” Ollman v. Kawalewski, 238 Wis. 574 (1941). The right to vote has been described by the Wisconsin Supreme Court as “inherent …fundamental …sacred,” State ex rel. McGrael v. Phelps, 128 N.W. 1041, 1046.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in State ex re. Frederick v. Zimmerman, 37 N.W.2d 473 (Wis. 1949) stated:
“The right of a qualified elector to cast a ballot for the election of a public officer, which shall be free and equal, is one of the most important of the rights guaranteed to him by the constitution. If citizens are deprived of that right, which lies at the very basis of our democracy, we will soon cease to be a democracy. For that reason no right is more jealously guarded and protected by the departments of government under our constitutions, federal and state, than is the right of suffrage. It is a right which was enjoyed by the people before the adoption of the constitution and is one of the inherent rights which can be surrendered only by the people and subjected to limitation only by the fundamental law.”
Translation: the right to vote, which is super fucking majorly important - like whoa - can only be relinquished by the people themselves (because constitutions are enacted by the people), not by the legislature passing bullshit laws.
Because the right to vote has been declared to be a fundamental right under the Wisconsin constitution, Wisconsin courts must apply a strict level of review to any law that infringes upon or burdens such a right. In re Zachary B., 271 Wis.2d. 51, 62 (2004). That the Voter I.D. law burdens the fundamental right to vote is not in dispute.
Strict scrutiny means a couple of things in Wisconsin: (1) the law being scrutinized by the court must address a legitimate governmental purpose; (2) the court will consider both the benefits and the burdens of the law; and (3) because the law attempts to burden a fundamental right, the government has the burden to justify its enactment. State ex rel. Frederick, supra, at 614. In other words, the court will be looking at the purpose of the law, how important that purpose is, and weighing those factors against the extent to which the law will impair the fundamental right to vote. The court will also consider whether the law will actually carry out its purpose; in other words, will the Voter I.D. law stop voter fraud?
Put differently: You want to step to fundamental rights, then you’d better have a goddamned rock solid reason for it.
What is the Purpose of the Voter I.D. Law and What are the Benefits?
The supposed purpose of the Voter I.D. law is to protect the integrity of elections and to prevent voter fraud. I will assume, for the purposes of this analysis, that electoral integrity is an important governmental interest. I’ll give them that, even though I’d rather not because fuck them. Anyway, according to the record before the Dane County Circuit Court, investigations of vote irregularities have produced “extremely little evidence of fraud.” The record also reveals that the small number of issues that were uncovered by these investigations are issues that will not be prevented by the Voter I.D. law (issues dealing mainly with absentee ballots).
So the Voter I.D. law is burdening a fundamental right in order to protect a governmental interest that is virtually non-existent. There is no real evidence of rampant (or even un-rampant) voter fraud in Wisconsin. A governmental interest that doesn’t really exist can’t exactly be an important one.
The Wisconsin Voter I.D. Law Places an Undue Burden on Persons who are Constitutionally Eligible to Vote
The Wisconsin Voter I.D. law is currently the most restrictive voter eligibility law in the U.S. The law requires that voters present a driver’s license, a photo identification card issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, military identification, or a passport in order to vote in any election. A constitutionally qualified voter who cannot produce one of these forms of identification at the polling place, or within three days of the election, cannot vote. Period. This particular requirement is more restrictive than the Voter I.D. laws in other states. For example, Georgia law allows a person without identification to vote upon signing an affidavit which affirms the voter’s identity. Democratic Party of Georgia, Inc. v. Perdue, 707 S.E.2d 67 (Ga. 2011). So in Georgia, a person without identification can simply sign a statement saying they are who they claim to be (and when Georgia is doing it better than us, you have to wonder what the shit is wrong with that picture). The Wisconsin law makes no such allowances. Additionally, the Wisconsin law does not provide for any kind of review or remedy for a person who lacks identification and does not get to vote as a result.
The Wisconsin Voter I.D. law will have a disparate impact on voters who are members of racial minorities. Only 45% of African American men and 51% of African American women in Wisconsin have driver’s licenses. Only 54% of Hispanic men and 41% of Hispanic women have driver’s licenses.
The Wisconsin Voter I.D. law will also have a significant negative impact on the elderly. Twenty three percent of Wisconsin residents over the age of 65 do not have driver’s licenses.
As of 2002, according to a study conducted by University of Wisconsin Political Science Professor Kenneth Mayer, approximately 222,000 voters in Wisconsin did not have a driver’s license or photo identification. These figures were uncontested by the defendants (Scott Walker, et al.) in the case filed by the Milwaukee NAACP and were accepted by the Dane County Circuit Court as being “competent, well-founded, [and] entirely credible and persuasive.” Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al., 2012 WL 739553 (Wis. Cir. Ct. March 6, 2012).
The Dane County Circuit Court, in granting a restraining order against the implementation of the Voter I.D. law, reviewed forty uncontested affidavits from individuals who were either unable to obtain identification due to delays, computer errors, inability to obtain birth certificates, and misinformation, or who obtained identification only after paying between $14 and $39.50. Milwaukee NAACP, 2012 WL 739553.** Oh, did you think we did away with poll taxes? #LOLNotInWisconsin
The law does not only disadvantage minorities, the elderly, and the disabled, but also impacts many others. One example reviewed by the Dane County Circuit Court is the case of Ricky Lewis, a 58-year-old Marine Corps Veteran who can offer proof of his honorable discharge from the Marines but has been unable to locate any record of his birth and therefore cannot obtain a voter ID card. Id. This is the kind of fuckery this law has created - it completely strips eligible citizens of their right to vote.
Although the Voter I.D. law purports to target a legitimate government concern, it needlessly and unconstitutionally impairs the fundamental right to vote. The government has failed to offer evidence to justify the passage of the law. The Dane County Circuit Court found that “the scope of the impairment has been shown to be serious, extremely broad, and largely needless.” Milwaukee NAACP, supra.
And the Dane County Circuit Court is right.
In conclusion, the Wisconsin legislature and Scott Walker have trampled on the right to vote without any justification for doing so. And that’s some straight up bullshit right there.
**The United States Supreme Court held in Harper v. Virginia Board State of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966) that a poll tax of $1.50 was an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.
I need a nap.
I am reblogging this because it took me a long time to write it and I am disappoint that not many people seem to have read it. My fee fees are hurt.
If you don’t want to read it, you could just heart it and I will feel better about myself.
Coming from someone who reads legal writing all day, this is a very well written explanation of what went on with the Wisconsin Voter ID mess. I will gladly validate you because you did do a good job :)
Republicans in charge of the State Assembly took yet another shot at transparency, this time, literally. I came to the gallery today to find this. The windows to every gallery door had paper and tape over them. Why would they do this you may ask? The answer is quite simple. Last time they were on the floor, Arthur who runs the page Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State, got some controversial footage. It was of Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-ALEC) voting for absent members. Some dismissed it as common practice but the impression the general public had was quite different. Whether common practice or not people don’t like to see this happen.
The Republicans, who control the Assembly by a large majority, must have been embarrassed by Joel getting caught. Clay Barbour and Mary Spicuzza, of the Wisconsin State Journal, quickly attacked Arthur and his footage and said that he was breaking policy himself by filming from the gallery. The problem is that Arthur was not filming from the gallery–this was a direct lie. And when confronted with the fact that they literally lied to their entire reading audience, they brushed it off and the lie remains to this day. Fortunately for Arthur the footage was picked up by a number of people at MSNBC and also Keith Olbermann who named Kleefisch as his “worst person.” And the Republicans, obviously failing in their poorly disguised attack of Arthur through Clay and Mary, did what they always do. They covered it up. Again, literally. They covered up the windows so no one can film from outside the gallery as Arthur was doing when he caught Kleefisch.
Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman, the Assistant Majority Leader and a close ally of GOP Governor Scott Walker in the effort to destroy collective bargaining in the Badger State, is taking crazy to new levels.
Grothman has introduced a bill that would require the State of Wisconsin to officially deem single parenthood to be a “contributor” to child abuse and neglect and to put the same into statutory laws of the state.
If it strikes you as odd that the Wisconsin senate is spending the taxpayers’ money debating this sort of legislation in committee—considering that a full one-third of Wisconsin’s parents are, indeed, single parents—you need to understand a little bit more about Wisconsin state Senator Grothman.
You should know that it was Senator Grothman who informed us last year that “The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.” This is also the same Senator Grothman who opposed a provision in the 2010 Wisconsin sex education law that would prohibit teachers from promoting bias based on sexual orientation because he believed that instructors would have an “agenda” to persuade students to become gay.
And, yes, this is the same Senator Grothman who wants to defund kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds because, argues Grothman, any academic benefits disappear by the fourth grade, and the program is used by school districts to pad their budgets to get more state aid.
..According to Lisa Subeck, a program manager and family advocate at Wisconsin’s Dane County Parent Council Head Start, Grothman’s bill was written to dictate personal choices rather than to help prevent child abuse. Says Subeck, “Sen. Grothman is inserting government into what should be a very personal decision.
That sounds about right.
And here I thought it was the GOP that was dedicated to keeping government out of our private lives.
Judging from current state politics, it’s pretty unbelievable that Wisconsin is the place where progressivism was born.
How have I been in the same world as this person?
A Dane County judge on Tuesday barred the enforcement of the state photo ID law at polling places during the general election on April 3, calling it an “extremely broad and largely needless” impairment of the right to vote.
Circuit Judge David Flanagan said the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and…
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