Skip to comments.Judges and Voter ID (Wisconsin)
Posted on 05/02/2014 9:58:50 AM PDT by jazusamo
If the state provides free IDs, is there really an unjustified burden on poor voters?
To better understand the contrast between an activist, liberal judge who refuses to follow the law and a judge who understands that his job is to follow precedent and the Constitution, consider two recent federal cases on voter-ID laws.
On Tuesday, federal-district-court judge Lynn Adelman a Clinton appointee, former Democratic state senator, and former Legal Aid Society lawyer held that Wisconsins voter-ID requirement violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, because it places an unjustified burden on the right to vote.
This decision has gotten a great deal of attention in the mainstream press (or the drive-by media, as Rush Limbaugh likes to calls them).What got almost no attention was a decision by another federal district court in Tennessee on February 20 over that states voter-ID law. In that case, Judge Ronnie Greer upheld voter ID as constitutional.
The problem with Judge Adelmans holding in Wisconsin is that the U.S. Supreme Court has already determined that voter-ID laws such as Wisconsins do not impose an unjustified burden on the right to vote. In 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of an ID law in Indiana that was even stricter than Wisconsins law.
In Crawford, the Supreme Court said that, since Indiana provided a free ID to anyone who didnt already have one, the inconvenience of making a trip to the BMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. And Wisconsin provides a free ID just as Indiana and Tennessee do.
But here is where the contrast between two styles of judging are manifest: Adelman claimed that Crawford was not binding precedent when it comes to applying the balancing test between a claimed injury to the right to vote and a state statute regulating elections, because the Supreme Court was supposedly fragmented on this issue.
Compare that to Judge Greer in Tennessee, who did what he is supposed to do as a federal trial-level judge follow precedent and the holdings of the Supreme Court. As Judge Greer said, Whether the plaintiff likes it or not, Crawford is the controlling legal precedent.
While there were some minor differences between the Tennessee and Indiana statutes, Judge Greer concluded that they were virtually identical for the purpose of applying the Supreme Courts finding in Crawford, because none of the differences cited by plaintiff have any real constitutional significance.
Judge Adelman summarily dismissed the rationales that Wisconsin put forward to justify its voter-ID law the same rationales the Supreme Court concluded in Crawford were legitimate legislative concerns. These included preventing in-person voter-impersonation fraud, promoting public confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, deterring other types of voter fraud, and promoting orderly election administration and accurate record-keeping.
Adelman made much of the fact that there was a lack of evidence of impersonation fraud in Wisconsin and cited that as a reason for tossing out the statute. This also directly contradicts the Supreme Courts ruling in Crawford. However, as Judge Greer pointed out in response to the plaintiffs argument that Tennessee must provide empirical evidence of the existence of in-person voter impersonation fraud before it could implement such a law, the Crawford decision is dispositive on this issue in the context of an election law case.
Even though Indiana presented no evidence of in-person voter-impersonation fraud actually occurring in the state, the Supreme Court found that flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this Nations history by respected historians and journalists, and Indianas own experience with absentee-ballot fraud in a 2003 Democratic primary demonstrates that . . . the risk of voter fraud [is] real [and] that it would affect the outcome of a close election.
Greer said that the plaintiffs allegations of Tennessees lack of empirical evidence of in-person fraud or that requiring photo identification will reduce it are irrelevant. As the Supreme Court concluded, while the most effective method of preventing voter fraud may well be debatable, the propriety of doing so is perfectly clear.
Perfectly clear to Judge Greer, but not to Judge Adelman, who, in essence, refused to accept the Supreme Courts finding on all these issues and spent 90 pages trying to justify his defiance of binding Supreme Court precedent.
It is also interesting to note that Adelman bases his erroneous conclusion that a voter-ID law will suppress the votes of minorities and the poor on the prediction of supposed experts such as a statistical marketing consultant. These are exactly the same types of hysterical predictions that were made eight years ago by experts in the unsuccessful federal lawsuits filed against voter-ID laws in Indiana and Georgia.
The evidence of what has actually happened in those states, which have had voter-ID laws in place since the 2008 election, shows that, contrary to Adelmans conclusions, minority turnout was not suppressed by voter-ID requirements. Indeed, it went up after the voter-ID laws were implemented.
And, according to the U.S. Census, Wisconsins demographics are almost identical to Indianas. In fact, Indiana has a slightly larger black population (9.4 percent vs. 6.5 percent) as well as Hispanic population (6.3 percent vs. 6.2 percent) than Wisconsin. In Indiana, blacks outvoted whites by ten percentage points in the 2012 election. In Georgia, blacks outvoted whites by one percentage point. In Tennessee, whose voter-ID law was in place for the first time in the 2012 election, blacks outvoted whites by four percentage points, according to the Census report on turnout by race in every state.
It appears that Judge Adelman studiously ignored actual evidence of the effect of voter ID on the turnout of minority voters in other states. Instead, he relied on the speculations of experts who made the same predictions as experts in other voter-ID cases who have been repeatedly proven wrong to reach his conclusion that Wisconsins voter-ID law, even with a free ID available, will have a disparate impact on black and Latino voters because it will impact low-income voters. Not only is that factually unsupportable, but low-income voters are not even a protected class under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
Unlike Judge Adelman, Judge Greer properly concluded that the Supreme Courts ultimate holding in Crawford dooms plaintiffs constitutional challenges. It is true that Adelman also found a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which was not at issue in the Crawford case. But Adelman himself said that the Section 2 analysis is largely identical to the unjustified-burden analysis under the constitutional claim.
Since the Supreme Court had already decided that a voter-ID requirement is not an unjustified burden on voters, Adelmans conclusion to the contrary under both Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution runs directly counter to the higher court that he is supposed to follow.
So we have two federal judges, one of whom followed Supreme Court precedent, and one of whom refused to do so. And whose opinion has gotten the most attention and is being praised by the New York Times and the liberal cognoscenti? Why, Judge Adelmans, of course.
Adelmans decision will be reviewed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals the very same court that upheld Indianas voter-ID law in 2007, before it went to the U.S. Supreme Court and was affirmed. We may hope that it will give his latest opinion the short shrift it deserves and overturn it so that the opponents of election integrity and common-sense reform do not prevail in Wisconsin.
If federal-district-court judge Lynn Adelman were honest, she would just say the law makes it too difficult for sanctioned minorities to vote more than once.
But Adelman would no doubt rule that none of the paperwork and computer-time necessary to sign up for ObamaCare constituted an “unjustified burden.” She’s a political hack, a joke.
When will we wake up?
Ask the judge whether s/he was required to show or scan government ID to enter the building and be in court that day!
How can a judge who is required to produce government issued ID adjudicate such a case? Conflict of interest.
She’s a he
They don’t care about that. They never did. They don’t care about the Constitution or your rights. It is dogma and ideology to them and they are part of the larger amorphous plan to reduce this country to a tyranny of progressivism that will punish you for your thoughts if they aren’t diverse and liberal enough.
Individual freedom is the farthest thing from their twisted minds. I can’t say here what really should happen to them.
And on the heels of that decision, may the good citizens of Wisconsin launch a recall election or impeachment proceeding to throw 'judge' Adelman out on his arse.
Agree with you both but she’s a he and he’s going to be overturned on this, the guy must be getting senile to not follow precedent.
Yep, this old turkey is a leftist activist and decides cases accordingly.
Settled law baby.
Not to mention the decision is racist - blatantly - and insulting to blacks. The judge thinks the collective intelligence of blacks is lower than whites so they need special protections.
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board went 6-3 in favor of voter ID being constitutional. If it's necessary that Supreme Court decisions be unanimous, then most decisions go out the window.
All the states have to do is tell all the federal judges they will not obey their edicts. Simply say “This is a state issue and you, Mr. Federale, and do not have the power to rule over the states.”
In fact, the governors could say “When you come to get James Dobson, we’ll be standing there with him.”
Those that protest the most about voter photo ID hold rallies requiring photo ID to participate and then cheerfully show their photo ID to buy beer and cigarettes, cash a check, get a library card, rent a car.....
I'd bet the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals isn't going to agree with this turkey. :)
Just make it a requirement that everyone must have a state-issued ID to pick up any form of public assistance. That should eliminate the problem.
You know, jaz, I’ve honestly looked at this issue. I’ve tried putting myself in the shoes of some ultra poor person who wants to vote.
Money could be an issue...but they made it free.
Transportation could be an issue...but they have to be able to transport themselves to the voting precinct.
The only issues left are mental and physical ones, and they’d be the same no matter what.
Maybe we need a Voter Registration Van with ID capability that goes to houses that call them for their services.
At that point in time, there is absolutely no argument against photo IDs that anyone could conceivably make.