Supreme Court Gives Green Light To Wisconsin Voter ID Law

The U.S. Supreme Court today turned away a challenge to Wisconsin's voter-ID law, in a victory for the administration of Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

Opponents of the law requiring a state-issued photo identification to vote had fought it in federal and state court before it was temporarily put on hold by the high court in October without ruling on the merits.

"[The Court] did not explain its reasoning, but it was most likely because the statute was being implemented so close to the November election, which could have caused confusion and disruption," Reuters noted.

However, in a defeat for the ACLU, the justices in a one-sentence ruling today declined to review a prior federal circuit court decision that determined that the law -- originally passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 -- was constitutional. The same photo ID requirement had earlier been upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

"For now, it appears a majority of high court justices approve of photo-ID laws such as Wisconsin's, which does not involve allegations of intentional racial discrimination. None of the high court's more liberal justices voiced dissent with the decision not to hear the case," USA TODAY claimed.

Added about the Supreme Court's decision not to take up the case: "This will put a huge dent in the Obama administration's efforts to squelch voter-ID laws in other states. In order to grant certiorari, the ACLU would have needed four justices to vote to add it to the docket. The fact that they couldn't even move the liberal wing to unite against a voter-ID law shows that the justices consider the issue settled. Requirements for identification at polling stations are legitimate, in the eyes of the court, as long as enough options for no-cost qualifying ID exist to keep the poor from being disenfranchised."

A similar Texas statute is now the subject of a lawsuit pending before a federal appeals court in a closely watched case.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that Indiana's voter ID law was constitutional, and most countries around the world require a photo ID to vote.

Democrats from the Obama administration on down, along with allied groups, claim that voter ID laws discriminate against and disenfranchise voters, primarily minorities and the elderly, i.e., so-called voter suppression. Republicans insist that photo ID is one tool to combat voter fraud.

While liberals seem to think that photo ID requirements are the equivalent of waterboarding perhaps, a few years ago, however, Democrats in Rhode Island passed a photo-ID law, and the implementation apparently ran smoothly.

About today's ruling, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel explained that "Absentee ballots are already in the hands of voters, therefore, the law cannot be implemented for the April 7 election. The Voter ID law will be in place for future elections – this decision is final."

Wisconsin also announced that it will provide free state identification cards for voting, and also has a process for issuing IDs to those voters who even lack a birth certificate.

While people can disagree for ideological reasons about voter ID laws, as a practical matter, to function successfully in day-to-day life, you need a government-issued photo ID. No one seems to have a problem showing ID to get on a plane, opening up a bank account or cashing a check, picking up a package at the post office or UPS or FedEx, applying for government assistance, checking into a motel, completing a credit card transaction, getting a beer at the ballpark, buying cigarettes (for those foolish enough to still smoke), and even to vote in a union election. You even need a photo ID to buy recreational (or medical marijuana) in those states where it is legal, and there have no reported problems in that regard.

If a stoner has the wherewithal to obtain a state-issued ID, how hard can it be?

In February, 2014, those assembling to protest North Carolina's new voter ID law were required by organizers to have a photo ID to participate. The North Carolina law does not take effect until 2016, and is also subject to a court challenge. In the meantime, the state is providing picture identification for free to anyone who wants one, and is dispatching mobile vans to distribute them, thereby even eliminating the need for legal voters to go to the DMV to get an ID.

Parenthetically, attendees even needed a photo ID to get into the Democrat's own national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012.

Do you support or oppose voter ID laws such as the one that is now in effect in Wisconsin? Do you think it is difficult for a legal U.S. voter to obtain a government-issued photo ID?

[Photo by Scott Olson, Getty Images News]