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Supreme Court asked to intervene in voter registration case

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 22, 2020

MADISON — The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) is asking the state Supreme Court to again step into a nationally watched voter-integrity lawsuit, arguing a Madison appeals court provided no “reasoning or rationale” to stay a judge’s order to clean up the state’s voter rolls.

WILL filed a petition  Tuesday with the court seeking review of the District 4 Court of Appeals decision earlier this month to stay Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy’s order requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to remove some 200,000 registrations of voters suspected to have moved out of their districts. The appeals court also stayed Malloy’s ruling holding three Democrat members of the commission in contempt of court for failing to follow his order.

WILL, which sued the Elections Commission last year alleging the regulator broke state law, argues the appeals court offered no justification for its decision.

“Instead, it stated that it was the Court’s understanding that WEC was scheduled to meet that day and that therefore the Court’s ‘reasoning [would] be set forth in greater detail in a separate order to follow at a later date,’” the petition states.

WILL notes the “obvious implication” was that the liberal commissioners “did not have to be concerned about the consequences of the vote.” In other words, they didn’t have to worry about defying Malloy’s order.

“The Court of Appeals is required to provide some explanation when issuing a stay. To date, the Court of Appeals has provided nothing,” said Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and general counsel in a statement. “Whatever reasoning may follow, we’re asking the Supreme Court to consider whether a stay is warranted at all.”

On Jan. 13, the state’s high court effectively kicked the appeal of Malloy’s ruling back to the 4th District. The court split 3-3 on whether to immediately take the case, with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn voting with the court’s two liberals. Justice Daniel Kelly, a conservative running for a full 10-year term, did not participate.

Seizing jurisdiction, the appeals court, among the more liberal courts in the state, quickly halted Malloy’s Dec. 17 order.

WILL also is asking the Supreme Court to temporarily lift the stays issued by the 4th District while it considers the law firm’s petition. Election law observers nationally are following the case and its implications for Wisconsin, considered a battleground state in this year’s presidential election.

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