US Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeal, Upholds Wisconsin’s Strict Voter ID Law

supreme court justices artist impression

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a Wisconsin photo identification law passed in 2011. The law was briefly in effect for the February 2012 primary election, but it has been in legal limbo since then.

Opponents of the law, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), charge that it is unconstitutional. They contend that the law places undue hardship on certain segments of the population including students, the elderly, and the poor, groups who are disproportionately likely to lack the required form of identification.

A federal judge declared the law unconstitutional in 2014, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later overturned that ruling. The ACLU filed a motion to the U.S. Supreme Court appealing the 7th U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling, but on Monday, the Supreme Court turned away that appeal.

Monday’s ruling clears the way for Wisconsin to impose a photo identification requirement on voters. 30 U.S. states have photo identification laws in place. 17 of them have passed voter ID laws since the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana voter ID law in 2008.

The Wisconsin law lacks consistency. For example, overseas military ballots are accepted, without any identification required whatsoever. By contrast, student’s using a university ID must not only bring their photo ID, but they must also provide additional paperwork, demonstrating proof of current enrollment.

Voter ID laws may seem well-intentioned, but their real purpose is not to eliminate the largely imaginary problem of in-person voter fraud. Instead, they are designed to make it more difficult to vote. Specifically, Republicans like to pass voter ID laws that make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning voters to cast a ballot, although the restrictions undoubtedly have the unintended consequence of imposing burdens on some Republican voters as well.

Voter ID laws are a “solution” to a non-existent problem. Nationally, the ratio is one case of in-person voting fraud for every 14.6 million registered voters.  As Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee on the 7th Circuit Court, made it clear in his 2014 dissent:

There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.

He also chastised fellow justices, by pointing out the absurdity of upholding a law that was passed as a solution in search of a problem:

If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?

Actually, he probably shouldn’t have planted that seed. The Republican-dominated Wisconsin legislature might very well decide passing a law permitting witch trials is a good idea.

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled its hostility towards voting when it struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Monday’s decision to uphold Wisconsin’s voter ID law, demonstrates once again, that a majority on the current Supreme Court want to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.


42 Replies to “US Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Appeal, Upholds Wisconsin’s Strict Voter ID Law”

  1. Its America that lost some of its freedom and rights today! Nothing to celebrate. It is now more important than ever to get the vote out! That is the only way to get our freedoms restored. President Obama was right when he said how transformative this country will be if everyone votes.

  2. proving your ID is a common thing today..need it to prove who you say you are and prevents voter fraud and multiple voting..people who get upset over this have a secret agenda..and thats worth exploring..if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear..and showing your ID should be something that is not only required in alot more other activities(like underage drinking at bars) but also when knowing who you are is needed in these people complain at airports,or when a cop asks you for it!!??

  3. Guess it wasn’t enough to gut the Voting Rights Act. They have to make sure even fewer people vote. The fewer people vote the more likely Republicans win. Maybe Democrats will finally get the hint. Actually, it’s not a hint. It’s a club over the head.

  4. I am holding out hope for another president that believes in democracy will follow our current president and that several of the justices who clearly hate America and Americans disappear, and the court becomes more compassionate, intelligent and promote equality over prejudice.

  5. John Hough@ Proving who you are to vote is a little different then a cop asking for your drivers license. The voting judges accept gun cards, but not student ID’s from a state college. Why ? Like you said, a hidden agenda.

  6. here in oklahoma i’m expecting our repug dominated state legislatures to enact voter id laws because here just recently they raised the costs of getting & renewing drivers licenses

  7. All it takes is 4 justices in conference to hear or deny an appeal.
    Rule of four
    The rule of four is a Supreme Court of the United States practice that permits four of the nine justices to grant a writ of certiorari. This is done specifically to prevent a majority of the Court from controlling the Court’s docket. However, in practice, it may be that a “Rule of Five” is often used at the behest of four justices (who would rather not hear the case than lose it).[1]

    The rule of four is not required by the Constitution, any law, or even the Supreme Court’s own published rules. Rather, it is a custom that has been observed since the Court was given discretion over which appeals to hear by the Judiciary Act of 1891, Judiciary Act of 1925 and the Supreme Court Case Selections Act of 1988

  8. If you have to be in possession of a government approved document to exercise your Constitutional rights, you have no rights. You have permission.

  9. The rigging of the votes in Florida and the Supreme Court ruling had more to do with it than Ralph Nader. He’s just a prop used to distract from where the real issues lie. Besides, Nader wouldn’t have had to run if Democrats were not just a bunch of conservative Reagan Democrat sellouts. There is no progressive party in America anymore. That’s why things are as bad as they are. You are part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

  10. In Canada:

    (1) Show one original piece of identification with photo, name and address like a driver’s license or a health card. It must be issued by a government agency.


    (2) Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have a name and one must also have an address. Examples: student ID card, birth certificate, public transportation card, utility bill, bank/credit card statement, etc.


    (3) Take an oath and have an elector who knows the voter vouch for them (both of which will be required to make a sworn statement). This person must have authorized identification and their name must appear on the list of electors in the same polling division as the voter. This person can only vouch for one person and the person who is vouched for cannot vouch for another elector.

    So what’s the problem with USA strict voting laws? They are not needed. It’s just obstruction.

  11. No I am pragmatic. As much as you may hate Mark Pryor he is much better than Tehran Tom Cotton. I know you emos think that you will get your magic unicorns but being Progressive means just that you make progress

  12. Progress? What progress? You mean the selling out to the oil industry by Mary Landrieu and Joe Mancin and Heidi Heitkamp? You mean the efforts to set back women’s reproductive rights by Patty Murphy? You mean the efforts by blue dog democrats to avoid primaries in places like Ohio and Florida and Missouri in 2016? You mean the enablers of the atrocities in Ferguson by Jay Nixon and Claire McCaskill? You mean capitulation to the racist police unions by “progressive saviors” Bill Deblasio and Tish James? Or corporate sellouts like Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emanuel? Or do you mean Romneycare which aids insurance companies and stymies the ability to advocate for single payer health care for a lifetime? Even worse considering the Affordable Care Act is a policy which could be undermined by the Supreme Court after extensive compromises with the GOP to pass it. Please tell me about this “progress” you speak of? Because from this end, we’re going backwards and Democrats are failing us every time…

  13. Driving is a privilege which is why you need a license to do it. Voting is a right which should not be able to be taken away. When you throw hurdles in front of people trying to vote, you are being Unamerican. For the Supreme Court to side with an Unamerican action is despicable.

  14. WHat I want to know is, which liberal justice actually voted to not take this case? If every left leaning judge on the SC voted to take this case, it would be something the court would have taken. Breyer maybe?

  15. This is what countries look like before civil wars! First repression, then de facto apartheid, then actual apartheid, then after the war the perpetrators flee to some place until they are pulled from their hidey holes!
    I guess they really want a Tea Party president! I still wonder what would have happened if war had been declared in 2000.

  16. Proving your identity via strict verification is rare these days! Most states charge enormous fees and keep poor records! Getting my State ID cost 20.00!

  17. You need to brush up on politics 101. Sandra Day O’Connor had no real interest in upholding the Constitution…after all, she voted to interfere with Florida’s Supreme Court ruling that there be a vote recount in 2000. My God how different things would have been under a ‘President’ Al Gore. As it stands….there are 5 Conservative ‘justices’ who deserve to be impeached for those same justices showed they were activist judges in the Citizens United Ruling proving they were not representatives of the people of the United States but rather powerful corporations!

  18. The rest of the world must see us as a laughing stock. Our President is loved around the world, as well as in our country, and he is surrounded by dolts.

  19. BINGO.

    What is this so difficult for RWers to understand? Has racism blinded them and desensitized them to the point that they can’t see the difference between rights and permission?

  20. The Supreme Court evidently didn’t consider the 24th Amendment to the Constitution. Section 1 says: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”

    For States to require a citizen to have a State-approved driver’s license or ID card that the citizen has to pay for, amounts to a poll tax. Unless the State is willing to provide those cards free, then such laws amount to a poll tax. Poll taxes are unconstitutional. Did the Supreme Court refuse to look at the 24th Amendment to the Constitution?

  21. Okay now that they’ve made the decision the only thing left to do is make sure as many Democrats as possible have id’s. I can’t think of another way to beat them at their own game.

  22. It seems pretty obvious that the case wasn’t turned away for it’s substance. I was hoping that the reason would be declared here, but I’ll keep looking. As it is, I must assume the “appeal” was poorly argued or the cause for appeal was disregarded as essentially irrelevant to the Supreme Court. Most important in these voter ID cases will be actual “harm”. Documenting cases of undue burdens or costs SHOULD be a fairly simple task. Unfortunately, it requires the implementation before cases can be documented rather than presenting “potential” issues, but that seems to be where we’re at.

  23. Almost all advanced nations require ID’s to vote.
    Are American’s so lame they cannot, or do not, posses proper ID’s?
    What is wrong with the idea that elections need integrity?

  24. Ok genius show us the voter fraud where you want to implement a poll tax which BTW IS AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION
    Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[1]

  25. Please provide an example where a POLL tax has been implemented or even suggested? Remember, a POLL tax is a fee FOR VOTING.
    Having citizens with photo ID is not a TAX, it is common sense. Please don’t confuse common sense with illegal taxes on citizens for the right to vote.
    If you can find an example of a state requiring a TAX to VOTE then I will agree with you.
    Again I ask, what is wrong with integrity in our elections?

  26. Actually when you force people to buy a state ID for voting one could consider that a poll tax and with restrictions that you vote in the precinct that shows your address is also wrong . What if you move? Are you going to pay 20 dollars every time to update your papers? Now what’s wrong with a voter registration card. You show up, present your card, they take you off the voting list and there is no problem. See you people don’t want people to vote or can I say the wrong colored people to vote

  27. Who is ‘you people’? People who want elections with integrity?
    There is nothing wrong with voter registration cards IF they conclusively connect the person with the card. Nothing at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.