WI Voter ID Opponents File #SCOTUS Reply to Get Court to Take Case

You can read the short reply here. The reply makes a good and important timing point:

This case is the only vehicle that guarantees the Court an opportunity to address the constitutional and statutory questions surrounding restrictive voter ID laws before the 2016 presidential election. Wisconsin admits that this case is “procedurally far ahead of the cases from Texas and North Carolina.” Opp. 10. In Texas, Fifth Circuit briefing will continue through mid-March, followed by oral argument, a panel decision, and possibly a petition for rehearing. Id. North Carolina is even farther behind; trial is not scheduled to begin until July. Opp. 12. There is no guarantee that this Court could consider either case before the end of the October 2015 Term.

Postponing consideration of these issues also would tangibly harm hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites and millions of other Americans. On issues of profound national importance affecting large numbers of citizens in multiple states, this Court need not wait for issues to percolate, especially when, as here, lower court decisions already reflect significant disagreement. See, e.g., King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 475 (2014); Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). Wisconsin is wrong that the Texas case—which is still being briefed in the Fifth Circuit—is a “superior candidate for review.” Opp. 10. It is irrelevant that Texas has enforced its law “since November 2013.” Id. Whenever possible, courts should resolve challenges to discriminatory election laws before states enforce those laws in elections. Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 585 (1964). Moreover, the record already reflects Act 23’s “impact, if any, on voter turnout.” Opp. 11. Wisconsin’s own expert agreed at trial that Act 23 “is likely to suppress voter turnout in the State of Wisconsin.” Trial Tr. 1477. This conclusion is confirmed by Plaintiffs’ expert, numerous studies concerning other states’ voter ID laws, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. Pet. 26.

Certworthiness does not depend on which state’s voter ID law is “stricter.” Opp. 11. In some ways, Texas’s voter ID law, SB 14, is stricter than Act 23: Wisconsin accepts two forms of photo ID that Texas rejects. See id. But in other key ways, Act 23 is the stricter law: in Texas, “those over 65 or disabled can vote by mail” without photo ID. Veasey v. Perry, No. 13-cv-193, 2014 WL 5090258, at *34 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 9, 2014). Anyway, Act 23 is a prototypical restrictive voter ID law that provides a perfect vehicle to guide lower courts’ review of similar laws. ColorofChange.org Amicus Br. 6–9.

tThe Texas district court’s finding of an “official discriminatory purpose” for SB 14 (Opp. 11) cuts in favor of granting the present petition. One would hope that judicial findings of intentional racial discrimination by a state legislature will be rare. This case, by contrast, presents the more common and recurring question whether Act 23 violates Section 2 based on the discriminatory impact on African-American and Latino voters. Even if this Court granted review of Texas’s case, a decision striking down SB 14 as intentionally discriminatory would not necessarilyresolve the critically important questions in this case and prevalent in much of the country.

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