After losing twice before a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit, Republican lawmakers are now asking the full appeals court to hear their arguments in a case that extended the deadline for absentee ballots.
They’re also gearing up to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Republicans filed a new motion late yesterday. They’re seeking a rehearing on whether they have standing to challenge a federal judge’s initial ruling, which allows absentee ballots to count if they are postmarked by Election Day and received up to six days later.
GOP lawmakers also requested two stays, including one while the 7th Circuit considers the request for a new hearing. They want the other issued by Tuesday after which they plan to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
At the heart of the issue over standing is a ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that the three-judge panel interpreted as precluding lawmakers from challenging the ruling extending the absentee ballot deadline.
Last night’s filing was one in a series yesterday that began with lawmakers arguing the panel had misinterpreted the state court ruling. But the 7th Circuit refused a request from GOP lawmakers to seek clarity from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
That ruling largely upheld the lame-duck laws Republicans approved in December 2018. The federal court said that decision also allowed the Legislature to represent its own interest in lawsuits, but not the state’s. That means lawmakers aren’t entitled to defend the validity of a state law, according to the federal court.
But in last night’s filing, the attorneys for GOP lawmakers argued the three-judge panel had erred on several fronts. They noted legislators were previously granted standing in the suit that resulted in the extended deadline when it was first filed this spring. They also argued U.S. Supreme Court precedent gave lawmakers standing to challenge it, and they argued the three-judge panel had misapplied that state Supreme Court ruling.
The decision, Republicans argued, actually found litigating on behalf of the state is a shared power and gave the Legislature standing, especially in cases where the executive branch had declined to defend a statute.
The filing also argued if there’s any doubt about what the Supreme Court meant, the 7th Circuit should ask Wisconsin’s justices for definitive word.
The filing also argued a stay should be granted of Judge Willam Conley’s initial ruling because it’s so close to the election and voting has already begun. The order, now in effect, extended the deadline for absentee ballots, pushed back by one week the deadline to register online or by mail to Oct. 21, and allowed voters who request absentee ballots but don’t receive them in the mail to get a replacement electronically between Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.