On January 7, 2015, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (Law Center) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review last fall’s 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Frank v. Walker, our challenge to the Wisconsin voter ID statute. In our petition to the Court, the Law Center argued that the appeals court decision mischaracterized facts found at trial, and applied a flawed legal standard in analyzing both equal protection and Voting Rights Act (VRA) claims.
The petition argues that the Supreme Court should decide the important voting rights question posed by this case – whether voter ID laws are constitutional when they burden the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of state residents and do not advance a legitimate state interest. With respect to the equal protection claim, the petition argues that the 7th Circuit erred in finding that it was obligated to uphold the Wisconsin voter ID law under the Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, because unlike in Crawford substantial evidence was presented at trial to demonstrate the significant burdens of the law. In addition, the petition argues that the 7th Circuit improperly analyzed this case under the VRA. Specifically, the 7th Circuit improperly determined that a VRA plaintiff is required to prove intentional discrimination, as opposed to demonstrating a discriminatory impact – and that such a plaintiff must prove a denial of the right to vote, although the statute only requires proof of an abridgement of the right to vote.
Frank v. Walker was filed by the Law Center and our co-counsel at the ACLU, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Dechert LLP. The Supreme Court petition was jointly filed with the League of United Latin American Citizens, represented by Arnold & Porter and the Advancement Project. The suit seeks to protect the voting rights of all Wisconsin voters, including approximately 300,000 registered voters who lack the necessary ID to vote under the voter ID law; a significant number are low income or homeless individuals.
A copy of the filed petition can be found at: http://nlchp.org/documents/Frank_v_Walker_SC_petition_20150107