MADISON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Wisconsin from implementing a law requiring voters to present photo IDs, overturning a lower court decision that would have put the law in place for the November election.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law constitutional on Monday. The American Civil Liberties Union followed that up the next day with an emergency request to the Supreme Court asking it to block the ruling.
On Thursday night the U.S. Supreme Court did so, issuing a one-page order that vacated the appeals court ruling pending further proceedings. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the application should have been denied because there was no indication that the 7th Circuit had demonstrably erred.
Here’s the text of the order:
The application to vacate the September 12, 2014 order of the United States Court of Appeals for the SeventhCircuit presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is granted and the Seventh Circuit’s stay of the district court’s permanent injunction is vacated pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari respecting case Nos. 14-2058 & 14-2059. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this order shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the order shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court
JUSTICE ALITO, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.
There is a colorable basis for the Court’s decision due to the proximity of the upcoming general election. It is particularly troubling that absentee ballots have been sent out without any notation that proof of photo identification must be submitted. But this Court “may not vacate a stay entered by a court of appeals unless that court clearly and‘demonstrably’ erred in its application of ‘accepted standards.’” Planned Parenthood of Greater Tex. Surgical Health Servs. v. Abbott, 571 U. S. ___, ___ (2013) (slip op., at 1) (SCALIA, J., concurring in denial of application tovacate stay) (quoting Western Airlines, Inc. v. Teamsters, 480 U. S. 1301, 1305 (1987) (O’Connor, J., in chambers);some internal quotation marks omitted). Under that test, the application in this case should be denied
As I understand this, SCOTUS blocked the implementation of Voter ID pending a decision on whether they will take the case or not. If they decide not to take the case, the law will immediately go into effect. Their concern is that the implementation of the law this close to an election may be problematic for those to whom absentee ballots were already sent. There is no indication as to whether or not the court will accept the case.
Voter ID will eventually be implemented in Wisconsin, but not for this election.