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Current Events vs. Founding Documents

This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.

Lawsuit Against Wisconsin Photo I.D. Off Target

Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, ACLU, Twenty-Fourth Amendment

Entry 207

Current Event

According to The ACLU, December 13, 2011

ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Wisconsin's Unconstitutional Voter ID Law

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty today filed a federal lawsuit charging that Wisconsin’s voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive citizens of their basic right to vote. The lawsuit is the only active federal challenge against a voter ID law, the most common type of legislation that is part of a nationwide attack on the right to vote.

The complaint says that allowing only certain types of photo ID imposes a severe burden on the right to vote in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It also states that the law violates the 24th and 14th amendments because it effectively imposes an unconstitutional poll tax. The lawsuit was filed the same day that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to speak about the importance of ensuring equal access to the ballot box.

“The state of Wisconsin has created a voter ID system that is making it very hard or impossible for residents to exercise their cherished right to vote,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Countless Wisconsin residents, including veterans, minority voters and seniors who have been voting for decades, will be turned away from the polls under this law’s restrictive photo ID requirements. Our lawsuit aims to block this unconstitutional law so that Wisconsin can continue its proud tradition of high participation in elections.”

To read a copy of the complaint, go to:

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According to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentianel, Nov. 15, 2013

Trial of two challenges to Wisconsin's voter ID law concludes

An attorney challenging Wisconsin's voter ID law, the strictest in the nation, called it a voter suppression law, a "troubling blend of race and politics."

Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski said the state had a legitimate interest in protecting the integrity of the electoral process and stopping fraud, and that the plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof to overturn the law.

As evidence that the law was providing ways for everyone to vote, Kawski noted that since Wisconsin began offering its free ID service, more than 217,000 have been issued, and in Milwaukee County mostly to minorities.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is concerned with impact of laws on minority voters, regardless of a legal intent.

But Kawski, the state's lawyer, told U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman that bare statistics don't meet the threshold of impact, and that without real damages to prospective voters there's no violation.

© 2013, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.



Founding Document

US Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

US Constitution, Twenty-fourth Amendment,  Section 1.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

We the People:


These claims of constitutional violations miss the target. The 14th amendment requires that all citizens must be treated equally according to the laws.  Act 23 does that by requiring all eligible voters (not just those of certain groups) to show proper photo identification; and every eligible voter is allowed obtain a proper photo ID.  In addition, there has been no enforcement policy that focuses on or discriminates on the basis of age, race, or ethnicity. Therefor the plaintiffs did not prove how the law violates the 14th amendment.  In addition, since the ACLU did not substantiate how the costs of obtaining a birth certificate equate to a tax, they did not establish how this law violates the 24th amendment. 

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