Wisconsin

With Voter ID Law On Hold, Wisconsin Republican Urges Supporters To ‘Challenge’ Voters At The Polls

voters

Voters | Credit: AP Images

Think Progress

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Less than one week after the Supreme Court delayed the implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law until after the midterm elections, a GOP official urged Republican activists to take matters into their own hands to prevent voter fraud.

Milwaukee County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas warned a crowd of volunteers and supporters Friday night to be “concerned about voter fraud,” and urged the hundreds of attendees to take an “extra step of vigilance.” “You as a Wisconsin resident can challenge people who are not supposed to be voting,” he said at the Milwaukee County Republicans event. “You’ve got to do that.”

Under state law, voters, election workers, official observers, or any member of the public can challenge the validity of someone’s vote, but to do so, they must swear under oath that they have firsthand knowledge that the person is not qualified to vote. A challenge cannot be based on a mere suspicion or hunch.

“Providing those parameters would be important to any discussion related to voter challenges,” Milwaukee City Election Commission Director Neil Albrecht told ThinkProgress. “Failure to provide has the potential to incite unsubstantiated challenges and a disruption to voting.”

Others echoed this concern that Baas’ invocation for “challenging” at the polls would hurt legitimate voters. “There’s a fine line by legitimate questions and harassment and intimidation,” said Darryl Morin, the Midwest vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Morin told ThinkProgress that as a Republican it is “disappointing” to see such rhetoric coming from “a party that claims to be reaching out to minorities.”

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed a law earlier this year allowing poll observers to be as close as three feet to a voter. Democratic lawmakers and progressive organizers haveexpressed concern that the measure could lead to greater harassment and intimidation and Morin said that some of LULAC’s Wisconsin members have already experienced such treatment when going to cast a ballot.

“We completely agree that the vote is a very precious thing, but to put barriers before people who are eligible to vote just should not be allowed. When you look at the law that was passed in Wisconsin and the people who were impacted—the majority of them Hispanics or African Americans—it’s hard to believe that it happened just by chance,” Morin added.

LULAC, which has been involved in voting rights struggles since the days of the poll tax, has been battling Wisconsin’s voter ID law for the past few years on behalf of its Latino members who would be disenfranchised by the measure. Morin said he’s frustrated by politicians who feed “the false impression that if you have a dark tint to your skin, you’re obviously illegal and a criminal and you’re dealing drugs.”

Commissioner Baas was one of many officials at the Milwaukee County Republican Party event to lament the recent Supreme Court ruling putting Wisconsin’s voter ID law on hold for this November’s election.

Republican Dan Sebring, who is running for the fourth time against Gwen Moore (D-WI) for her seat in the House of Representatives, said that the ruling “stinks,” while the Republican candidate for Attorney General, Brad Schimel, called it “bad news”—prompting the whole crowd to boo the high court. He then counseled them: “The best way you can prevent someone from stealing your vote is if you use your vote. Make sure no one can go in and take your line in the ballot box.”

Schimel and others at the event said repeatedly that they were concerned about voter fraud. But countless studies in Wisconsin and around the country have found in-person voter impersonation to be nearly non-existent. And the kinds of fraud that are more common—like fake absentee ballots, vote buying, fake registration forms, and ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam—would not be prevented by a voter ID law. And most ironically, the one case of voter fraud cited in court is against an elderly supporter of Walker.

10 things you need to know today: October 10, 2014

And the winner is...

And the winner is… (Brad Barket/Invision/AP Images)

The Week

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin’s voter ID law, and more

1. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi win the Nobel Peace Prize
Children’s rights activists Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Yousafzai, 17, was shot in the head by a Taliban militant for her work promoting girls’ education, and has since become an icon for the cause of children’s schooling. Satyarthi, 60, has shown “great personal courage” by leading peaceful protests against the exploitation of children, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. Malala became the youngest person to ever win the prize, by more than a decade. [The New York Times]

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2. The Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin’s voter ID law
The Supreme Court on late Thursday blocked Wisconsin from implementing a voter identification law in next month’s mid-term elections. The law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011, requires voters to produce a photo ID at the polls. A federal judge ruled it unconstitutional, saying it would unfairly burden minority voters. An appeals court reinstated it, but the justices put it on hold while they consider whether to hear the case. On the same day, a federal judgeoverturned a similar law in Texas. [USA Today, NPR]

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3. Signs of slowing growth in Europe contribute to U.S. stock plunge
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped by 335 points, or 2 percent, to 16,659 on Thursday in the blue-chip-stock index’s sharpest one-day plunge in more than a year. The Standard & Poors 500 big-stock index also lost 2 percent, and the small-stock Russell 2000 plunged by 2.5 percent. The losses, which came one day after the Dow and the S&P 500 made their biggest daily gains of 2014, came as data suggested Europe’s economic growth was slowing. [USA Today, Bloomberg]

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4. Investigators say crash victim in Ukraine was wearing an oxygen mask
Dutch prosecutors revealed Thursday that the body of an Australian passenger on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was found wearing an oxygen mask. No other bodies were found wearing oxygen masks, but the new evidence suggested that some passengers might have been aware that their airliner was going down after apparently being hit by a missile over a rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July. [Sydney Morning Herald]

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5. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un misses important ceremonies
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not attend ceremonies marking the anniversary of the ruling North Korean Workers’ Party — an important national holiday — fueling speculation about his health. Kim, who is believed to be 31 years old, has not been seen in public since Sept. 3. “Today was a crucial day for him to return,” said Leonid Petrov, a Korean studies specialist at Australian National University. “More and more questions are mounting and his absence inevitably leads to uncertainty about who’s leading the country.” [Los Angeles Times]

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6. Mexico arrests alleged Juarez drug cartel leader
Mexican authorities have arrested Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, the alleged leader of the Juarez drug cartel, government officials said Thursday. His capture was the latest in a series of high-profile gains the Mexican government has made in an offensive against drug lords this year. The Juarez cartel is one of the country’s most powerful drug trafficking operations. Carrillo, who is known as “the Viceroy,” allegedly led a war with the rival Sinaloa gang that killed thousands between 2009 and 2011. [BBC News]

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7. Amazon plans its first brick-and-mortar store
Digital retail powerhouse Amazon announced Thursday that it planned to open its first physical store — in midtown Manhattan — in time for this year’s holiday shopping season. The first brick-and-mortar Amazon outlet will function mostly as a warehouse capable of delivering stocked items within the city on the same day they are ordered. It also will process returns, exchanges, and pickup orders. [The Wall Street Journal]

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8. Texas sheriff’s sergeant tests negative for Ebola
Texas health officials announced Thursday that a sheriff’s sergeant who had briefly entered the apartment of the late Ebola patient Thomas Duncan had not contracted the virus. The sergeant, Michael Monnig, was hospitalized after reporting to an urgent-care center outside Dallas complaining of stomach pain. He tested negative for Ebola. So far, none of the 48 people being monitored after having contact with Duncan have shown any sign of having contracted Ebola. [The New York Times]

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9. Prosecutor seeks NFL star Adrian Peterson’s arrest over apparent drug confession
A Texas prosecutor has asked a judge to revoke the bond and order the arrest of Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, after the running back told an employee at a drug-testing agency during a urinalysis that he had “smoked a little weed,” according to court papers publicized on Thursday. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office said drug use would be a clear violation of the terms of Peterson’s $15,000 bond that got him freed after he was charged with felony child abuse. [USA Today]

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10. Jan Hooks, an ex-SNL comic, dies at 57
Former Saturday Night Live star Jan Hooks has died after a long illness, her representative confirmed Thursday. She was 57. Hooks did memorable impersonations of everyone from Sinead O’Connor to Nancy Reagan to Diane Sawyer as part of an all-star cast that included Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, and Nora Dunn. Her five-year run on SNL ended when she left to join the hit CBS sitcom Designing Women. [Newsday]

Militia Group Plans To Target African-American Democrats At Polling Places In Wisconsin

african-american-voting

African Americans Voting

 

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this similar to KKK  tactics of the 50’s?

PoliticusUSA

A militia group in Wisconsin is planning to target African-American Democrats at polling places in order to suppress the vote and keep Republican governor Scott Walker in office.

Here is a Twitter exchange where the group details their plan:

wisconsin-militia

A visit to the group’s Facebook page features makes it clear exactly who they are targeting. All of the pictures on the page feature African-Americans. The group is trying to get African-Americans who may have outstanding warrants arrested in order to keep them from voting. The group wants people to report those they suspect of having warrants out on them to the police on election day, “Do the community a favor and keep an eye out for people wanted on warrants and report them to the police on election day.”

The “poll watchers” also plan on harassing and following people who they suspect of being wanted on warrants to their homes. The plan seems to be to use the police to intimidate African-Americans into not voting in November’s election.

The group admits that they are targeting Democrats. They aren’t exactly subtle in making it clear that they are targeting African-American voters. The scheme is an attempt to intimidate African-American voters while getting around the Voting Rights Act. The point of this campaign isn’t to get felons off the streets. The “poll watchers” are trying to keep African-Americans away from the polls.

The fact that they are targeting a specific group of individuals based on race and perceived political affiliation means that their operation is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. According to the Justice Department, “The administration of elections is chiefly a function of state government. However, federal authorities may become involved where there are possible violations of federal law. In cases where intimidation, coercion, or threats are made or attempts to intimidate, threaten or coerce are made to any person for voting or attempting to vote, the Department of Justice can consider whether there is federal jurisdiction to bring civil claims or criminal charges under federal law. Depending on the nature of the allegations, they may fall into the jurisdiction of different parts of the Department. If you have information about allegations of intimidation, please contact us.”

Wisconsin Republicans are desperate to keep Scott Walker in office, Currently, Gov. Walker is tied with Democrat Mary Burke in the polls. A voter intimidation effort that could prevent African-Americans from voting might be enough to get Walker reelected. The right-wing Wisconsin poll watching group is planning on engaging in illegal activity. The group is just getting started, which is why it is a perfect time to send the message that these tactics will not be tolerated.

You can contact the Justice Department here, and request that the election be monitored.

The right to vote must be protected, and those who attempt to intimidate voters need to be held accountable.

Secret $700,000 Donation Has Scott Walker Scrambling to Address ‘Appearance of Corruption’

WI Gov. Scott Walker | (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

WI Gov. Scott Walker | (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

 

The Nation

When Gogebic Taconite LLC began moving in November 2010—the same month Scott Walker was elected governor of Wisconsin—to develop an open-pit iron mine in one of the most environmentally sensitive regions of northern Wisconsin, the Florida-based mining firm got a lot of pushback. Residents of the region objected, along with Native American tribes. So, too, did citizens from across Wisconsin, a state that has long treasured the wild beauty of the Penokee Range. Environmental and conservation groups voiced their concerns, as did local and state officials from across the political spectrum.

The outcry heightened as Gogebic Taconite and its allies promoted a radical rewrite of existing mining regulations in order to promote a project that could grow to be four miles long, more than a mile wide and 1,000 feet deep. Democratic and Republican legislators began to ask tough questions. Yet Governor Scott Walker remained “eager to advance a mining bill,” according to Wisconsin media that reported extensively on the governor’s determination to overrule objections to the grand schemes of an out-of-state corporation that newly released documents show secretly steered $700,000 to “independent” efforts to provide political cover for the embattled governor.

The documents, released as part of legal wrangling over a “John Doe” investigation into alleged fund-raising abuses during the recall elections of 2011 and 2012, have revealed both big contributions and the big concerns of a key investigator about “an appearance of corruption.”

Walker, of course, denies any wrongdoing, as does Gogebic and the group that managed the money.

Yet there is no question that the governor provided substantial support for the mining company. During a long, high-profile battle, he dismissed and denied a broad array of objections to Gogebic’s plans.

The Nature Conservancy argued that the proposed changes to Wisconsin mining regulations would “pose serious risks to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater and other natural resources.”

The Sierra Club announced that “the largest ever mine proposed in Wisconsin presents unacceptable risks to Lake Superior and the sensitive and exceptional Bad River Watershed which includes…the largest freshwater estuary on Lake Superior.”

“It’s devastating,” said Annie Maday, a member of the tribal council of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, which argued that the mine could destroy wild rice beds and pollute waters on its nearby reservation. “They’re going to destroy my home.”

When the state Senate took up the bill, it was opposed by Bob Jauch, the Poplar Democrat who represents northwest Wisconsin. “Our job is not to be Santa Claus to the mining company and Scrooge to the taxpayers,” Jauch said. “This is a bill that offers a sweetheart deal for the mining company and shortchanges the taxpayer.”

State Senator Dale Schultz, a Republican who broke with his party to oppose the mining legislation at several key points, said, “My conscience simply won’t allow me to surrender the existing environmental protections without a full and open debate.”

When the controversial rule changes were approved by the legislature in 2013, Walkerannounced that he was “thrilled” to sign the bill.

What went unmentioned at the time was the extent to which Gogebic Taconite was “thrilled” with Walker.

The documents that were briefly unsealed last week by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit—which is weighing whether to permit the continuation of the “John Doe” probe into alleged illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and so-called “independent” groups that supported the governor—shined light on the shadowy political networks that developed to aid Walker. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that the “hundreds of pages of documents that… showed Walker’s team sought to solicit funds for the Wisconsin Club for Growth from an array of nationally known donors to fend off his 2012 recall. Real estate developer Donald Trump, industrialist billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson were all targets.”

The documents reinforce the image of the governor, who is seeking re-election this fall and preparing a 2016 Republican presidential run, as a master political operative who worked every angle to secure record amounts of money for his own campaign and for “independent” groups that were supportive of it. In one of the unsealed documents, a fund-raising aide consulting with Walker before he met with wealthy donors advised: “Let them know that you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported.”

The documents reveal details of a number of huge and previously unreported donations. Yet the one that raised the most eyebrows had to do with the mine project.

As the recall fights heated up, Gogebic Taconite moved $700,000 to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which in turn steered resources to other groups that cheered on Walker and his Republican allies.

“Because Wisconsin Club for Growth’s fundraising and expenditures were being coordinated with Scott Walker’s agents at the time of Gogebic’s donation, there is certainly an appearance of corruption in light of the resulting legislation from which it benefited,” argued Dean Nickel, the former head of the state Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Unit who investigated the fund-raising scheme for the state Government Accountability Board.

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Walker has admitted that he helped steer money to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, but when asked whether he knew of the Gogebic money, he answered vaguely, “Not to my knowledge.” Pressed by reporters on whether “the previously undisclosed funds and subsequent legislation were part of some pay-to-play scheme,” the governor replied, “That’s a ridiculous argument.”

The governor has every right to make that claim, as do his most ardent apologists.

But in Wisconsin, a state that historically took great pride in its clean elections and high ethical standards, voters have a right to ask, based on records and revelations, whether it really is all that ridiculous to find in them “an appearance of corruption.”

Republican Voter Fraud Found as Scott Walker Supporter Charged With 13 Felonies In Wisconsin

gop-voter-fraud

Hilarious…

PoliticusUSA

It turns out that voter fraud is real. A Republican Scott Walker supporter in Wisconsin has been charged with 13 felony counts related to voter fraud.

According to WisPolitics.com:

Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old Shorewood health insurance executive, was charged Friday with 13 felonies related to his voting a dozen times in five elections between 2011 and 2012 using his own name as well as that of his son and his girlfriend’s son.

According to those records, Monroe was considered by investigators to be the most prolific multiple voter in memory. He was a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Alberta Darling, both Republicans, and allegedly cast five ballots in the June 2012 election in which Walker survived a recall challenge.

According to the John Doe records, Monroe claimed to have a form of temporary amnesia and did not recall the election day events when confronted by investigators.

Hallelujah!!!! Republicans have found their voter fraud. Unfortunately for them, they are the ones committing it. The Monroe case is even worse, because he voted multiple times in the April 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court race that required a recount. This isn’t the first episode of Republican voter fraud in the state. In 2011, a Republican legislative aide was investigated for voting multiple times.

The greatest irony of all is that the Monroe case exposes why voter ID laws don’t do what Republicans claim they do. Since Republicans benefit most from absentee voting, they have refused to address the glaring potential for fraud by absentee ballot. The Republican in Wisconsin was able to commit multiple acts of state and federal voter fraud by using absentee ballots for state elections, and driving across state lines for federal elections.

Republican voter ID laws address none of these issues, and instead focus on suppressing the vote by requiring voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats to show identification. A person is least likely to have identification if they are living in the city, and don’t drive. Voter ID laws are being used to suppress the votes of women by making strict rules about acceptable names on the identification.

It turns out that voter fraud is real, and Republicans are guilty of doing it.

Maddow: Today was a bad day for governors who want to be president someday

govs

Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Chris Christie of New Jersey

The Raw Story

Rachel Maddow crossed the aisle Thursday night, pointing out that today was not a very good day for three governors — two Republicans, one a Democrat — who have their eyes on the White House prize in the very near future.

Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer all began the day with bad news and, as Maddow explained, “They kind of made the bad news themselves.”

Starting with Gov. Walker, who must first get re-elected in his state before making a run for the presidency, Maddow pointed ou that his day started off poorly when newly released data showed the state of Wisconsin 37th in job creation.

“Scott Walker, of course, ran as the guy who was going to create jobs in Wisconsin,” she explained. “When you make something the central point of why you’re running for office, being bad at that specific thing ends up being a really big political liability.”

Walker’s day grew worse when previously sealed documents revealed he is at the center of what prosecutors are calling a “sweeping criminal scheme.”

Maddow added that this is part of an investigation into political shenanigans that has been going on for sometime, but now the public knows about it.

“There it is all over the news today, all over Wisconsin, all over the country, in black and white: ‘Prosecutors say Gov. Scott Walker part of criminal scheme.’”

Maddow then moved onto New Jersey Gov Chris Christie, referring to a report in the Wall Street Journal last week stating that federal prosecutors had impaneled a new  special grand jury just to handle Christie corruption cases.

Today Esquire revealed that sources say four staffers and appointees of Christie are likely looking at indictments being handed down.

“After what the Wall Street Journal said last week, and what Esquire magazine said today,” Maddow said. “Well, that made for bad day in the news for governor  who wants to be president number two.”

Maddow then turned to Schweitzer who did the damage to himself in an interview with the National Journal titled, ‘The Gonzo Option.’

“The article was just posted  today, Brian Schweitzer has already apologized for the things he said to the the reporter in this article,” Maddow explained. “But what he said to the reporter in this article is not the thing that an apology usually makes go away.”

Maddow pointed out that Schweitzer compared Sen. Dianne Feinstein to a streetwalker,  said his ‘gaydar’ told him Coingressman Eric Cantor was gay, and added that southern men sound ‘effeminate.’

“Governor Brian Schweitzer, again, has apologized for these remarks. He called them ‘stupid and insensitive.’ He said he is deeply sorry he said these these things, but you know, even just the Dianne Feinstein  comments alone,… is there really a deeply sorry, deep enough?”

Watch the video on The Rachel Maddow Show

Breaking News! Prosecutors: Scott Walker at the Center of a “Criminal Scheme” (Update)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker | Spencer Platt – Getty Images

Anyone surprised at this outcome?  I’m not…

Daily Kos

OMG!
200 pages of documents have been unsealed by a Federal Judge in one of the 4 legal efforts to shut down John Doe II – a secret investigation looking at whether or not there was illegal coordination between RW dark money groups and recall campaigns in Wisconsin.  They say Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-YourOnYourOwniStan) was at the center of it.

In the documents, prosecutors lay out what they call a “criminal scheme” to bypass state election laws by Walker, his campaign and two top deputies — R.J. Johnson (an advisor to both Walkers Campaign and Wisconsin Club for Growth) and Deborah Jordahl.

(information bolded is mine and information in italics is my addition)The documents allege that Walker and his associates raised money and controlled spending by conservative groups during the 2012 recall elections.  In Wisconsin, there can’t be coordination between campaigns and outside spending groups.

In an email to Karl Rove, Scott Walker said:

“Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities),” Walker wrote to Rove on May 4, 2011.

OMG! Side order of Karl Rove to go along with this, too.  Pinch me, I might be dreaming.

This case is currently being reviewed by the 7th Circuit Court after Federal Judge Rudolf Randa (a member of the Federalist Society whose wife donated often to Walkers campaign and whose Judicial Assistant is the wife of Scott Walkers lawyer) ordered the investigation shut down and evidence collected by the investigators destroyed (the 7th Circuit immediately intervened to prevent the destruction).

It is a judge reviewing the case that unsealed the documents today.

Seeing this, it’s small wonder they’ve been running to every court imaginable and writing editorials for RW newspapers to get this thing shut down.

This story is just breaking so stay tuned for further developments.

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Here’s a link to the raw documents.  (Warning:  large pdf file)

So far, nobody is commenting on this, but I’ll bet Walkers hair is on fire trying to think of something to say.

UPDATE:  Link to the John Doe II prosecutors appeal of the case.  (Warning:  pdf file)

They delineate the coordination and conference calls.

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For those interested in how Walker gets to pull the wool over the eyes of so many voters in Wisconsin, The New Republic has an excellent article.  I can’t recommend it more highly.

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Politico has an article up.  This is becoming national news.

And MSNBC posted an article as well.

Wisconsin Attorney General Threatens Clerks Who Approve Gay Marriage

Photo: No attribution

Liberaland

Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen is warning clerks that they can be prosecuted for issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, even though a federal judge has declared the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Van Hollen, a Republican, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that gay couples who have married since U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued her ruling last week aren’t legally married and district attorneys could opt to charge county clerks who issued them licenses with a crime.

“That’s going to be up to district attorneys, not me,” Van Hollen said. “There are penalties within our marriage code, within our statues, and hopefully they’re acting with full awareness of what’s contained therein. … You do have many people in Wisconsin basically taking the law into their own hands, and there can be legal repercussions for that.”

Clerks began issuing licenses June 6, hours after Crabb’s ruling came out. As of Thursday, 60 of the state’s 72 counties were issuing licenses.

But confusion has swirled about what clerks can legally do. Crabb declared the ban unconstitutional but did not issue any orders telling clerks to issue licenses. Van Hollen maintains that without such an order the ban remains in place.

 

More from Liberaland

10 things you need to know today: April 30, 2014

Banned!

Banned! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Week

The NBA bans Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, Oklahoma inmate dies in botched execution, and more

1. NBA bans Sterling over racist comments
The National Basketball Association on Tuesday banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million in a dramatic reaction to racist comments he allegedly made in a secretly recorded conversation. Commissioner Adam Silver said he would try to force Sterling to sell his team, a strong-arm move requiring the approval of three-quarters of team owners. Sterling’s views, Silver said, “simply have no place in the NBA.” [The New York Times]

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2. Oklahoma murderer dies after his botched execution is halted
An Oklahoma death row inmate, Clayton Lockett, died of a heart attack Tuesday night after hislethal injection was botched. Prison officials had called a halt to the execution after Lockett’s vein burst when the first of three drugs was administered, preventing the lethal ones from entering his system. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued a 14-day stay for the second inmate who was scheduled to die in the state’s first double execution since 1937. [USA Today]

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3. Judge throws out Wisconsin’s new Voter ID law
A federal judge in Wisconsin has struck down the state’s Voter ID law, saying the state failed to demonstrate that voter fraud exists and that the state can take steps to stop it. “The evidence at trial established that virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin,” District Judge Lynn Adelman said. Another judge threw out a similar law in Arkansas last week. [The Washington Post]

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4. Watchdog looks into allegations of Syria gas attacks
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced Tuesday that it was sending investigators to Syria to look into allegations that government forces had launched three chlorine gas attacks against rebels in the last month. The watchdog has overseen the destruction or export of 92 percent of the chemical arms Syria has promised to surrender. Chlorine, which has many industrial uses, is not one of the substances on the list. [Reuters]

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5. Gunman wounds six at FedEx sorting warehouse
Witnesses said a FedEx employee who was armed “like Rambo” shot six people at one of the delivery company’s sorting facilities, in Atlanta, before shooting himself to death on Tuesday. Two of the victims were hospitalized with life-threatening, close-range shotgun wounds. A FedEx worker said the shooter was wearing black and camouflage. “As soon as I saw guns strapped to his chest and everything,” she said, “I knew something was wrong.” [Los Angeles Times]

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6. Court explains why it found Amanda Knox guilty
An Italian court that convicted Amanda Knox in January for the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, released its reasoning on Tuesday, saying that Kercher’s wounds indicated that the man already convicted in the killing, Rudy Guede, did not act alone. The court said it had concluded that Knox, who returned to the U.S. after an earlier conviction was reversed, slit Kercher’s throat in rage after the two argued about money. The next step is likely another appeal. [New York Daily News]

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7. Australian firm says missing jet might have crashed near Bangladesh
An Australian geological survey company says its radiation scanning technology found evidence suggesting the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might have crashed in the Bay of Bengal off Bangladesh, thousands of kilometers from the current search area off Australia. The company, GeoResonance, said it detected a sudden deposit of aluminum — the plane’s chief component — on the sea floor after the plane vanished on March 8. [TIME]

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8. Hawaii legislature approves $10.10 minimum wage
Lawmakers in Hawaii made their state the latest to raise its minimum wage, voting late Tuesday to hike the rate to $10.10 an hour from the federal minimum of $7.25 by January 2018. That would bring Hawaii in line with a target wage set by President Obama, whose push for a higher federal minimum wage has stalled in Congress. California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., have already approved hikes to $10 or more an hour. [Reuters]

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9. Olympic officials express doubts over Rio’s preparations for 2016
The International Olympic Committee is getting worried about Rio de Janeiro’s readiness for the 2016 Summer Olympics, committee vice president John Coates said Tuesday. He called preparations in the Brazilian city — the first in South America to host the games — “the worst I have experienced.” Construction has just begun on a sports complex that will house 11 events. Still, Coates said, “There can be no Plan B; we are going to Rio.” [The New York Times]

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10. Next Star Wars movie brings back original cast
Disney has revealed that the cast of the next Star Wars film will include original stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher returning to their original 1977 roles as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia. The plot picks up three decades after the story in Return of the Jedi. The movie, which also stars a new crop of actors, is scheduled for world release in December 2015. [CNN]

 

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Rejected By Federal Judge

WISCONSIN STATE CAPITOL| Visions of America/Joe Sohm via Getty Images

Undoubtedly the State of Wisconsin will take this all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States where the majority of Justices are more amenable to knocking down civil rights gains of the past…

The Huffington Post

A  federal judge in Milwaukee struck down Wisconsin’s voter identification law Tuesday, declaring that a requirement that voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls imposes an unfair burden on poor and minority voters.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman sided with opponents of the law, who argued that low-income and minority voters aren’t as likely to have photo IDs or the documents needed to get them. Adelman said the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. He also said the law appeared too flawed to be fixed by legislative amendments.

Adelman’s decision invalidates Wisconsin’s law and means voter ID likely won’t be in place for the fall elections, when Republican Gov. Scott Walker faces re-election. While Walker last month committed to calling a special legislative session if the law were struck down in court, his spokeswoman wouldn’t commit to that Tuesday.

“We believe the voter ID law is constitutional and will ultimately be upheld,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email. “We’re reviewing the decision for any potential action.”

The ruling could set a precedent for similar legal challenges in Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere. There are 31 states with laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to the one a state judge struck down in Arkansas last week; that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law has been put on hold because of court challenges.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama waded into the voter ID debate, accusing Republicans of using restrictions to keep voters from the polls and jeopardizing 50 years of expanded voting access for millions of black Americans and other minorities.

A Dane County judge had already blocked Wisconsin’s law in state court. The state Supreme Court heard arguments in two separate lawsuits in February, although it’s not clear when the justices will issue a ruling. For voter ID to be reinstated, the state’s high court would have to rule that it doesn’t violate the state constitution, and Adelman’s decision would have to be overturned on appeal.

Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, which defended the state law in court, pledged to continue the fight.

“I am disappointed with the order and continue to believe Wisconsin’s law is constitutional,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a statement. “We will appeal.”

Republican backers had argued that requiring voters to show ID would cut down on voter fraud and boost public confidence in the integrity of the election process. But Adelman said the state failed to prove that voter fraud is a legitimate problem.

“(V)irtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future,” he wrote in a 90-page opinion.

Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature passed the photo ID requirement in 2011, scoring a long-sought GOP priority. Former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, had vetoed a similar requirement three times between 2002 and 2005.

Wisconsin’s law was only in effect for a 2012 primary before a Dane County judge declared it unconstitutional.

Adelman pledged to expedite any proceedings should Wisconsin’s Legislature attempt to amend the law, but he also had strong cautionary words for lawmakers.

“Given the evidence presented at trial showing that Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to lack an ID, it is difficult to see how an amendment to the photo ID requirement could remove its disproportionate racial impact and discriminatory result,” Adelman wrote.

Wisconsin residents can get a free state ID from a Department of Motor Vehicles by presenting documents such as a certified birth certificate, passport or Social Security card. Each document must be unexpired, and the person’s name must be spelled identically on each document.

A number of witnesses testified the regulation was a problem, either because their names were misspelled on a key document or because they were born in rural areas during an era when birth certificates weren’t always issued.

Adelman cited their testimony in his ruling, noting that they faced challenges that could deter them from voting.

“Although not every voter will face all of these obstacles, many voters will face some of them, particularly those who are low-income,” the judge wrote.

The federal challenge combined two separate cases. One was brought by minority-rights groups, including the Wisconsin chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the other involved the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project.

ACLU spokesman Dale Ho said his group was “ecstatic” over the victory, and felt Adelman rendered a fair assessment of the evidence.

“We’re pleased. We feel vindicated by the judge’s decision,” he said.

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