Judge Richard Niess permanently enjoined the state's new voter ID law!!

Friday’s ruling by Dane County Judge Richard Niess goes further than the one issued by another judge last week because it permanently halts the law. Tuesday’s order by Dane County Judge David Flanagan blocked the law for the April 3 presidential primary and local elections, but not beyond that.

The latest order may make it harder for the state to put the voter ID law into effect before the April 3 election because it would have to win two appeals in less than four weeks. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked for a stay of the earlier order, and he is expected to appeal it this week.

Whether Wisconsin’s photo ID law will stand is widely considered to be decided by a higher court. There are four lawsuits pending against it – two in Dane County court and two in federal court in Milwaukee.

The rulings come just weeks before likely recall elections for four Republican state senators. Recall elections are also likely for Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, but they have not yet been ordered.

The decision came the same day the U.S. Department of Justice blocked Texas’ voter ID law, which it said would disproportionately affect Hispanic voters because they are less likely to have appropriate identification.

Wisconsin and Texas were two of the seven states the passed voter ID laws after Republicans swept statehouses in the 2010 elections. Supporters argue the new laws prevent voter fraud and boost confidence in the election system. Detractors note instances of voter impersonation are incredibly rare and say the laws will disenfranchise voters.

In case you are wondering:

Judge Niess did not sign the recall petitions, according to his office.

So by republican Logic, not signing makes him a strong supporter of Governor Walker thus making this ruling even stronger. Although I will be curious to see what the Dane County republicans use to attack Judge Niess’s character after this.

Scott @ Badger Democracy has more including links to full documents.


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  1. It doesn’t matter. Does anyone really believe the bought and paid for state supreme court is going to strike the law down as unconstitutional? Not likely. The only real hope to keep this from being enacted is in the federal courts.

  2. A voter ID law will be enacted eventually. I suppose it can delayed long enough to not be in place for the recall election. It certainly will go to the Wisconsin Supreme Court but when it is appealed in the Waukesha District Court of Appeals, because of legislation passed this fall, it will be ruled constitutional there and be in place even when it is waiting to be appealed to the Supreme Court. Does anyone disagree with this scenario and if so how?

    1. @ Pete

      Pete: “It certainly will go to the Wisconsin Supreme Court but when it is appealed in the Waukesha District Court of Appeals, because of legislation passed this fall, it will be ruled constitutional there and be in place even when it is waiting to be appealed to the Supreme Court.”

      I need some information about you in order to determine if it there is any real need to respond to your comment.

      Have you ever passed a Bar Exam?

      If so, how long have you been practicing law, what kind of law do you practice, and in what jurisdiction do you practice?

      Alternatively, at which law school do you teach?

      Finally, did you EVER pass an English course?

      1. Not to be overly snarky about it, Pete, but I don’t think that you’re qualified to render an opinion about such things.

        Look, Pete, I know that, as a wingnut, certain outcomes are REALLY, REALLY important to you, and that that is THE only reason that you offered the opinion that you did here, but, the reality is that that is something which tends to disqualify one’s opinions if you don’t have something more substantial with which to back them up.

        And you don’t, do you?

        1. Sorry I typed my post fast and with that a couple of errors. Moving over to an adult conversation now what do you think about my scenario? I want you to basically admit that Voter ID will eventually be the law. Also I am not a law expert and am curious to know what was so wrong with what I said? This will be a good lesson for me. I also certainly hope you don’t think that someone who did not ever attempt to take the bar exam, practice law nor teaches law doesn’t have the ability the grasp the law. Are you a lawyer? Thank You Zuma Bound

          1. The problem that I had with your comment, Pete, was that it offered legal conclusions that I don’t think that you are not in a position to offer.

            The law, not to mention the practice of law, is nuanced in a way that lay people have great difficulty in grasping.

            For the record, Pete, in my view, most lawyers wouldn’t be qualified to assess the Constitutionality of any given law, Voter ID being one example. A non-lawyer doesn’t even come remotely close to having the tools necessary to knowledgeably comment regarding such things.

            Which brings me back to what I said about your opinion initially. In light of what I’ve said above, I’m pretty confident that your opinion is little more than the product of wishful thinking on your part.

            In any event, in your original comment, you articulated a premise for which you provide no logical or evidentiary support. I’m not in the habit of knocking down “straw man”.

            Make an informed, reasoned argument for your position, support it with some evidence (case law, law review articles, and so forth), and then we can talk about any need there might be for me to offer rebuttal.

            That said, I will say that I think that you are wrong in your conclusions, as I imagine you will find out in the very near future. In any event, better to listen to what the courts have to say than to me, am I right?

            P.S. To answer your question, I am a lawyer.

          2. @ Pete

            The “did you EVER pass an English class” thing wasn’t really called for on my part.

            Sometimes the ad hominem snark just sneaks right out past the censors.

            I hope that you’ll accept my apologies for it.

              1. Zuma I’m aware the snark remarks make it past many every now and then. Many get a natural urge to get defensive and snarky when someone disagrees with their opinion. I have a hard time holding myself back. I respectfully disagree with your opinion on who is qualified to assess what is constitutional. The US Constitution and even the State Constituion, which is more broad or vast in content, are relatively shortly worded documents for what many people think they may be. Perhaps the complexity comes with taking into account past precedent or past cases but can still be done by your average person with half a brain.

                I guess I’m uncertain to what you believe is going to happen with the law. Since I’m not one for law, talking to a lawyer I would be interested in making some predictions together just for a little fun. What route do you think the ruling and appeal process will take? I am of the opinion that an appeals court but if not the State Supreme Court will rule the law constitutional.

                On the federal level the matter has already been settled with Crawford vs. Marion County Election Board. So that is my argument for a prediction on the federal level as it has been found not to violate the US Constitution at least once. But I am also aware that there is this little right that people in the US think they have protected to them in the US Constitution. The right to vote that does not actually exist in the US Constitution nor I guess in the state of Indiana.

                Which brings me back to the state argument where in the state constitution in does give all citizens age 18 or older the right to vote. But does that mean a restriction to protect the integrety and reliability of the electoral process is invidious to use lawyer terms? Well I don’t believe that has been addressed or discussed at the state level yet unless I’m unaware. That means this case or cases would be quite precedent setting. I’m looking forward to the ruling/rulings.

  3. My next door neighbor has his lawn plastered with signs for local Republican candidates and a big fat Recall Walker bumper sticker on his car. So, I’m not sure the Recall petition litmus test holds much value.

  4. “So by republican Logic, not signing makes him a strong supporter of Governor Walker…”

    I’m not sure that necessarily follows, but funny nonetheless.

  5. For what it’s worth three of the five members of the 4th District Appeals Court are former Democrats; Sherman, Blanchard and Higgenbotham. In the case involving the elimination of collective bargaining rights, they passed it on to the Supreme Court. I have no clue what they’ll do in this situation. I think there is more of a chance they will issue a ruling in this case because there is specific wording in the State Constitution regarding qualifications to vote, not-so in regards to collective bargaining.

    The U.S. Supreme court has ruled that voter I.D.s in Indiana were Constitutional because they were free of charge (not a poll tax), readily available and did not cause disenfranchisement. Wisconsin’s law does not appear to qualify under any of those criteria. If I am wrong on any of this, someone please correct me.

  6. I had forgotten about the “inventing jurisdiction” technique. It kind of took my breath away again.

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