9 Scathing Quotes From Judge Posner’s Dissent Against WI Voter ID

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It’s only been one year since Reagan-appointed Judge Richard Posner converted to the view that voter identification laws are tantamount to voter suppression. His change of heart has sparked a fiery judicial opinion against a ruling in favor Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

Posner dissented against the decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals not to hold a full court re-hearing of a three-judge panel’s ruling authorizing implementation of the Badger State’s voter ID law. Posner clearly regrets his previous position on voter ID, writing in a 2013 book that he now pleads “guilty” to writing a majority opinion “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” (The Supreme Court temporarily put enforcement of the law on hold for the midterm elections.)

Here are the most scathing quotes from Posner’s opinion.

—”Some of the ‘evidence’ of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid, such as the nonexistent buses that according to the ‘True the Vote’ movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places.”

—”Even Fox News, whose passion for conservative causes has never been questioned, acknowledges that ‘Voter ID Laws Target Rarely Occurring Voter Fraud.'” [Link included in the original.]

—”As there is no evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?”

—”There is no evidence that Wisconsin’s voter rolls are inflated — as were Indiana’s — and there is compelling evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is essentially nonexistent in Wisconsin.”

—”The panel opinion states that requiring a photo ID might at least prevent persons who ‘are too young or are not citizens’ from voting. Not so. State-issued IDs are available to noncitizens … — all that’s required is proof of ‘legal presence in the United States[.]’

—”This implies that the net effect of such requirements is to impede voting by people easily discouraged from voting, most of whom probably lean Democratic.”

—”The panel opinion does not discuss the cost of obtaining a photo ID. It assumes the cost is negligible. That’s an easy assumption for federal judges to make, since we are given photo IDs by court security free of charge. And we have upper-middle-class salaries. Not everyone is so fortunate.”

—”There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”

—”The authors’ overall assessment is that ‘voter ID laws don’t disenfranchise minorities or reduce minority voting, and in many instances enhance it’ [emphasis added]. In other words, the authors believe that the net effect of these laws is to increase minority voting. Yet if that is true, the opposition to these laws by liberal groups is senseless. If photo ID laws increase minority voting, liberals should rejoice in the laws and conservatives deplore them. Yet it is conservatives who support them and liberals who oppose them. Unless conservatives and liberals are masochists, promoting laws that hurt them, these laws must suppress minority voting and the question then becomes whether there are offsetting social benefits—the evidence is that there are not.”

This post has been updated.

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  1. Avatar for chammy chammy says:

    More stories like this please. Something serious to dicsuss. This is an important story that ran at salon.com yesterday

  2. Posner is something all too rare in the US today, a thinking conservative.

    If the authorities in a state feel the need to require ID, then why not issue them free of charge when people register/

  3. For those that have been paying attention these are nothing new.

  4. "As there is no evidence that voter-impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials?"

    Bingo! It’s satisfying to hear this from a Judge.

  5. I’m starting to love this judge. From an article by Brad Friedman at Salon yesterday:

    “And remember, once again, this is written by Richard Posner, the conservative Republican icon of a federal appellate court judge — the judge who wrote the opinion on behalf of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals approving of the first such Photo ID law in the country in 2008, the very case that rightwingers from Texas to Wisconsin now cite over and over (almost always incorrectly) in support of similar such laws — now, clearly admitting that he got the entire thing wrong.”

    Since he was the one that came up with the decision in favor of the constitutionality of Voter ID laws in the first place, renouncing it as a wholly partisan effort on the part of one party against another, namely the Republicans against eligible voters on the left is truly remarkable these days. He has taken a bold and courageous stance to speak the truth about these voter suppression laws.

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