The state Supreme Court has declined to fast track a case seeking to force from the rolls thousands of voters who may have moved, making it likely the suit won’t be resolved until after the Nov. 3 election.
The court late yesterday rejected 5-2 a motion to decide the case on briefs alone or hear oral arguments in August, shortly after the new term begins. Instead, the majority ordered oral arguments, but not before Sept. 29.
Justice Rebecca Bradley in her dissent knocked the court’s order, writing the majority was disregarding its duty to the voters of Wisconsin.
In a footnote, Bradley pointed out those who filed the suit told the court a ruling would be needed by Sept. 13 — three days before ballots must be distributed — for the November election to proceed in accordance with any decision.
The majority didn’t explain its rationale for declining the request for an expedited process.
“Elections are the foundation of American government and their integrity is of such monumental importance that any threat to their validity should trigger not only our concern but our prompt action,” Bradley wrote.
Several citizens, backed by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, sued in Ozaukee County late last year seeking to force the Elections Commission to immediately deactivate the registrations of voters who may have moved, but failed to respond to a mailer from the agency.
A circuit court judge agreed with WILL and found Dem members of the commission in contempt for not immediately complying with his order. The 4th District Court of Appeals, though, overturned both the ruling and the contempt order after the state Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal directly. Following the appeals court ruling, the justices agreed to hear the case, which could impact about 129,000 registered voters who didn’t respond to the commission mailing.
Justice Daniel Kelly, who lost the April election, joined his fellow conservative Bradley in her dissent. His term on the court ends July 31, meaning liberal Justice-elect Jill Karofsky will hear the case instead. Conservatives will still have a 4-3 majority on the court even after she replaces Kelly.