In a decision that has little substantive meaning, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted an injunction against Wisconsin Voter ID that a lower court imposed. This was not a decision on the merits. It merely means that the 7th Circuit will allow voter ID to go into effect for the November elections absent the injunction being reimposed by the full 7th Circuit or United States Supreme Court.
The other significant part of the decision is that it is predictive. It gives an indication what the 7th Circuit will decide in the appeal of the lower court’s injunction. The left has been hailing the lower court opinion as providing a new architecture for attacking voter ID under the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act does not provide an easy fit with voter ID laws, largely because of an absence of proof that they were enacted with a discriminatory intent.
The left has been trying to graft a pure statistical analysis onto voter ID. This analysis seeks to show that minorities suffer an adverse impact in marginally larger numbers. This, indeed, is usually the case. But the difference is so infinitesimal to render the difference virtually meaningless.
But that won’t cut it to the folks who want to make any difference a justification for a federal injunction.
United States District Judge Lynn Adelman had written an opinion that adopted this new and yet untested theory. For a brief time, the judge was a star in academia and among left leaning reporters when the court blocked Wisconsin voter ID. His opinion was built on a house of sand in its interpretation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Now the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says Wisconsin Voter ID is ALIVE for November election.
The decision by the 7th Circuit also gums up efforts in North Carolina and Texas for voter ID opponents who were eager to borrow Adelman’s reasoning to strike down those laws. Some left-wing academics who dislike voter ID have suggested the Supreme Court may step in to block Wisconsin Voter ID before the election. They are whistling past the graveyard, as it is unlikely to happen.