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Wisconsin Sup Ct. Chief compares Voter ID to Jim Crow, majority disagrees

Wisconsin Sup Ct. Chief compares Voter ID to Jim Crow, majority disagrees

Yesterday, Wisconsin prevailed in two separate challenges to the state’s voter ID laws, and certain state officials were not shy in their disappointment over the verdict.

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s voter ID laws in two separate opinions that could drastically affect the rules governing the polling place come November. Although a federal court previously ruled Wisconsin’s laws to be unconstitutional, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told the press that yesterday’s separate rulings by the Wisconsin Court could convince the federal court to put its ruling on hold and allow the laws to remain in place for the fall elections.

Writing for the majority, Justice Crooks stated that the challengers to the law did not meet their burden of proof when arguing that the law violated the constitutional rights of Wisconsin voters:

We conclude that the legislature did not exceed its authority under Article III of the Wisconsin Constitution when it required electors to present Act 23-acceptable photo identification. Since 1859, we have held that “it is clearly within [the legislature’s] province to require any person offering to vote[] to furnish such proof as it deems requisite that he is a qualified elector.” Cothren v. Lean, 9 Wis. 254 (*279), 258 (*283-84) (1859). Requiring a potential voter to identify himself or herself as a qualified elector through the use of Act 23-acceptable photo identification does not impose an elector qualification in addition to those set out in Article III, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

The dissenters, unhappy with the precedent set by the ruling, took to task Republican legislators and justices whom they accused of ignoring the alleged impact of voter ID laws on minority groups. Via Media Trackers:

Dissenting from the majority in both cases was Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a noted liberal, who savaged the majority for choosing to uphold the law.

“Today the court follows not James Madison – for whom Wisconsin’s capital city is named – but rather Jim Crow – the name typically used to refer to repressive laws used to restrict rights, including the right to vote, of African-Americans,” Abrahamson fumed in the opening paragraph of her opinion.

Voter ID will not go back into effect in Wisconsin until a federal court battle is resolved, but Abrahamson darkly mused:

“Indeed the majority opinion in NAACP v. Walker brings the specter of Jim Crow front and center. It invalidates costs incurred by a qualified Wisconsin voter to obtain an Act 23 photo ID as an illegal de facto poll tax.”

The problem with Abrahamson’s rant is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the facts on the ground. Wisconsin imposes a high standard–“beyond a reasonable doubt”–on plaintiffs who allege a particular law to be unconstitutional, and those who challenged the voter ID laws failed to live up to that standard. Abrahamson is simply defaulting to the liberals’ favorite rallying cry of “racism!” without considering the terrible reality of what those words mean.

The National Park Service sponsors a very helpful website on the history of “Jim Crow,” and what discrimination in America looks like. For example, under the “Jim Crow laws of the years spanning from 1880-1960, Americans enforced segregation by:

  • forcing restaurant owners in Alabama to separate black and white diners with a 7 foot wall
  • allowing nurses in Alabama to deny treatment to black patients
  • allowing authorities in Florida to fine and imprison those who married outside of their race
  • allowing authorities in Georgia to set apart property reserved for the burial of whites only
  • creating a two block radius of separation around any “white” baseball diamond in Georgia
  • banning interracial use of public parks in Georgia
  • preventing interracial mixing at circuses in Louisiana
  • fining and imprisoning anyone who advocated for racial equality in Mississippi

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In contrast, Wisconsin’s voter ID law simply requires that “an elector…present Act 23-acceptable photo identification in order to vote.” That’s right–the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin supreme court compared requiring a valid ID in order to vote to fining and imprisoning blacks and whites for being in the same public park.

Here’s what the majority said with regards to requiring an ID to vote:

We conclude, as did the United Stated Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 (2008), that “the inconvenience of making a trip to a state motor vehicle office, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote.” Id. at 198. Furthermore, photo identification is a condition of our times where more and more personal interactions are being modernized to require proof of identity with a specified type of photo identification. With respect to these familiar burdens, which accompany many of our everyday tasks, we conclude that Act 23 does not constitute an undue burden on the right to vote. Payment to a government agency, however, is another story.

The Court then addressed the issue of charges and fees associated with obtaining the proper ID. Here’s the short version, pulled from a footnote to the opinion:

Put simply, the right to vote cannot require payment to a government or its agencies. This includes, of course, a “poll tax,” where a government directly requires and itself collects a payment in order to vote. See Harper v. Va. Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966). It also includes, however, fees that a government agency other than a Wisconsin agency may charge for documents necessary to obtain a DOT photo identification card for voting. We cannot require other governments or their agencies to refrain from charging such fees. We can, however, explain that in order to constitutionally administer Act 23, the DMV may not require documents in order to issue a DOT photo identification card for voting that require payment of a fee to any government agency.

As the article from media trackers noted, “[a] more recent report by von Spakovsky from earlier this year looked at Tennessee’s voter ID law and found, “even with a new photo ID requirement in place for the first time, blacks still voted at a higher rate than whites” during the 2012 election.” Studies in Georgia and Indiana produced similar results. This means that even with an ID requirement, blacks and other minorities were neither prevented from voting, nor so put off by the inconvenience of obtaining an ID as to affect overall minority voting rates.

Data–actual data, as opposed to liberal white guilt–suggests that not only is there no undue burden imposed by requiring an ID to vote, but there is also no disparate impact (much less disparate treatment) affecting black and other minority communities.

The infamous Jim Crow laws were a deliberate attempt by racist segregationists to repress minorities and prevent them from participating in society. Voter ID laws, on the other hand, are efforts by legislators to protect our most important–and most powerful–right. Wisconsin’s law still has a few more legal hurdles to clear before it goes into effect, but yesterdays rulings stand to put immense pressure on both the federal courts, and on Justice Department officials who insist on injecting race into the fight to prevent voter fraud at the polls.

You can read the full opinion of the Court here.


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“[a] more recent report by von Spakovsky from earlier this year looked at Tennessee’s voter ID law and found, “even with a new photo ID requirement in place for the first time, blacks still voted at a higher rate than whites” during the 2012 election.” Studies in Georgia and Indiana produced similar results.”

Don’t confuse the liberal judges with actual facts.

They are absolutely convinced — in their unassailable wisdom, logic, and moral supremacy — that blacks are simply too stupid to figure out how to obtain and use ID. And no amount of contrary facts will ever convince these liberals otherwise. Blacks just can’t be expected to function in the world in the same way that whites and other ethnic groups do. They need special protections, from wise and all-knowing judges like these.

But remember, WE’RE the racists.

    Miles in reply to Observer. | August 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Don’t forget that voter ID laws do a fairly good job countering voter fraud.

    The lieberals use the race card against voter ID in the hope that it will provide concealment for their schemes.

    There are people who want ‘power’. They *will* have it and will do just about anything to get it, and keep it.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Observer. | August 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    That has always been my argument, I would be offended if someone suggested that because I am a man I an to stupid, lazy, and or inept to go get my own valid ID.

    Also, I know many blacks and other minorities I am hard pressed to think of a single one that does not have some type of picture ID. I have asked them if they know anyone without ID and the answer is always negative.

      NC Mountain Girl in reply to Gremlin1974. | August 2, 2014 at 10:50 am

      During the May primary, election judges in NC were required to ask every voter if they had proper ID for when the new law goes into effect for the 2016 election. I live in a poor county of the type the liberals always bring up when talking about voters who might not have ID. We didn’t have a single person in my precinct who couldn’t produce a valid ID. My colleagues tell me of only two voters county wide- both elderly women who don’t drive. Both were instructed on how to obtain a state ID card.

We really should defer to Democrats about Jim Crow. After all, they created it, rand it, supported it and defended it to the last. Even JFK voted to table the anti-lynching law in 1957.

This is the same voter ID law that caught ONE person in WI, right? A cheating (redundant) *conservative*, yes?

Just checking.

    Valerie in reply to Gus. | August 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    All I know is that the Democratic Party of the State of Maryland was so interested in replacing its audit able, very fast voting system, which involved the use of paper ballots marked with a heavy black marker and then read immediately, with a touch-screen system that was known to be insecure.

    They spent 90 Million dollars to switch to a LESS secure system.

    Ragspierre in reply to Gus. | August 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    It’s the same voter ID law that people overwhelmingly…and regardless of party…support, just like those ALLLLLLLLLL over the U.S.

    Just like that backward, swamp-dweller-dominated backwater of the Old South, Hawaii.

    Or the former slave state and home of grinding Jim Crow Pennsylvania.

    You idiot.

    Radegunda in reply to Gus. | August 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Conservatives consistently favor voting procedures that make cheating hard. Leftists (aka “Democrats”) consistently favor voting procedures that make cheating easier: no ID, same-day registration, electronic instead of paper, extended voting periods, vote-by-mail, automatically registering people when they sign up for benefits extracted from taxpayers, filing lawsuits against states to stop them from taking ineligible or deceased persons off their voting rolls.

    “Democrats” also do everything they can to minimize the military vote (e.g. sending their ballots out too late) and to maximize the felon vote and the illegal-alien vote.

The mind of a liberal Democrat:

Requiring a FREE picture ID to vote is an infringement on their rights.

Requiring that somebody pay hundreds of dollars in various fees and spend weeks of time complying with onerous regulations in order to own a gun in DC is perfectly fine and NOT an infringement on your rights.

    platypus in reply to Olinser. | August 2, 2014 at 1:46 am

    What the heck do you think you’re doing? You can’t compare apples to apples! It’s a violation of Leftist Argument Rules.

It’s(Focus, y’all..)VOTER SUPPRESSION!!!!!!!!

Gotta have up-to-date valid ID to board an airplane. Or, buy a bottle of booze. But, the most sacred of American Rights?? Naahh…Their word will do.

A world turned upside down.

Are U.S. citizens who are “people of color” any less likely than “white” citizens to have valid government ID?

Even though I am over 50, when I went to a bar with a friend the other day, we were carded. The doorman at this bar cards everyone. Don’t tell me that any 20-something does not have ID, to buy a beer or for admission into bars, nightclubs, adult entertainment venues and casinos. And every 30-something used to be a 20-something, and still has ID.

I recently went to visit my brother-in-law at the hospital. I had to show my ID.

I recently cashed a check at my bank. I had to show ID.

I renewed my library card a few weeks ago. I had to show my ID.

I was entering the Courthouse through the staff-attorney entrance, and I was asked for my Bar Card and my ID (I was not in a suit and I looked like a slob/general public).

Whenever I pay for anything using a check or credit card, the cashier asks for my ID.

Presumably, “people of color” are subjected to just as many requests for their ID as I am.

So who are all of the legal registered voters who the liberals claim the conservatives are trying to keep from voting, by requiring ID?

I guess that every food stamp recipient needs ID. I guess that every Obama-phone recipient needs ID. I guess that every Section 8 “client” needs ID. I guess that every Obama-Care insured needs ID. So exactly who doesn’t have ID?

    randian in reply to Mike45. | August 2, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Voter ID would stop illegals from voting, and they universally vote Democrat. Vote fraud also seems to be most prevalent in Democrat strongholds. That’s who is being prevented from voting.

    Unfortunately Voter ID doesn’t stop legal non citizens who don’t know or don’t care that they can’t legally vote. I’d bet that is a strongly Democrat group as well.

PersonFromPorlock | August 1, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I still think someone should sue to block the ID requirement for buying a gun, using the same arguments that are used against voter ID. I’m sure some Justice Department lawyer would sprain something distinguishing the two.

Jim Crow? How about Old Crow?

In Albany, there was far more scrutiny getting a library card (ID + recent letter or bill showing address) than voting. I didn’t even need an ID to vote. I pay about $125 per year for the library system, too.