SCOWIS rules on Trump lawsuit and indefinitely confined status | WisCommunity

SCOWIS rules on Trump lawsuit and indefinitely confined status

December 14, 2020 - 11:30am
Madison Capitol building

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this morning on a lawsuit which was argued in September regarding the status of indefinitely confined voters. Under Wisconsin law a voter may declare themselves indefinitely confined when requesting an absentee ballot, in which circumstance they do not need to provide voter ID to vote. This became contentious in the pandemic as the election officials in Dane and Milwaukee Counties provided guidance to voters that they could declare themselves indefinitely confined due to the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

The court ruling this morning declares that the decision to call oneself indefinitely confined needs to be made by the individual voter, and that the decision to make everyone potentially confined because of the pandemic was invalid. Indeed, that advice was very short-lived and was overruled by the Wisconsin Election Commission. 

As the court said in the ruling, this is to some degree moot as the election has already taken place and the advice on indefinitely confined status was withdrawn shortly after it was sent out. The full ruling and dissents are attached below.

The court also has just ruled on  the Trump campaign lawsuit, rejecting it on a 4-3 vote. Once again Justice Brian Hagedorn has provided the swing vote between the conservative and liberal members of the court. The ruling is attached below.

In the decision, written by Justice Hagedorn, the contention over the indefinitely confined votes is dismissed, citing their ruling earlier today on that issue. The other three portions of the suit are dismissed on the laches principle, essentially saying that the Trump campaign could have filed in court before the election since all of the conditions and laws were in force at that time, but that they waited until after the election took place. 

The three more conservative justices dissented on the case, with Justice Patience Roggensack writing "Once again, four justices on this court cannot be bothered with addressing what the statutes require to assure that absentee ballots are lawfully cast. I respectfully dissent from that decision. I write separately to address the merits of the claims presented."

In response to the ruling today, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul issued a statement:

 

“Today’s decision is a repudiation of a sordid attempt to steal the authority to award our electoral votes away from the people of Wisconsin. The will of the people has prevailed.

 

“In this case, the President of the United States sought the capricious disenfranchisement of over 200,000 Wisconsinites based on post-election interpretations of the election laws and application of those new interpretations in just two of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling puts an end to this affront to democracy and equal protection under the law.

 

“The flood in several states of post-election challenges that never had a chance to succeed on the legal merits is, however, major cause for concern. That this attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election has failed so spectacularly and consistently is a testament to the durability of the safeguards of our liberty. But we must act to strengthen those safeguards to ensure that any future attempt to corrupt our democracy is also warded off. A great place to start would be by bolstering the protection of our right to vote—including through the passage of a constitutional amendment expressly providing for that right and of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

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