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Case Name Frank v. Walker VR-WI-0017
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-01128-LA ( E.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On December 13, 2011, registered voters in Wisconsin filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The plaintiffs sued the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, and the ... read more >
On December 13, 2011, registered voters in Wisconsin filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The plaintiffs sued the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, and the Division of Motor Vehicles. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest and private counsel, claimed that the voter ID requirement implemented by 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 (Act 23) placed an undue burden on their right to vote, constituted a poll tax, and has a disproportionate impact on minority voters. The plaintiff claimed that their fundamental right to vote under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the VRA had been violated. The plaintiffs sought both declaratory and injunctive relief.

The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Lynn S. Adelman. A group of eleven plaintiffs immediately filed for a preliminary injunction, which was revised as a motion for all plaintiffs on April 23, 2012. The plaintiffs moved for class certification on the same day. The court did not rule on these issues.

Instead, the parties engaged in extensive discovery, which culminated in a trial in early November 2013.

In an April 29, 2014 decision, the district court held that the Voter ID requirement disproportionately and negatively impacted minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Judge Adelman ordered a permanent injunction against enforcement of the voter ID law. The defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In a decision by Judge Easterbrook on October 6, 2014, the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court on the grounds that the voter ID law did not violate the VRA or the Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs petitioned for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, which was denied. 135 S. Ct. 1551.

The plaintiffs then returned to district court to pursue constitutional claims that were not considered by Judge Adelman in his initial April 29, 2014 decision about this case. The plaintiffs claimed their rights were violated because certain forms of IDs were not accepted, and some voters would have to turn over out-of-state IDs to get an acceptable Wisconsin ID, which plaintiffs argue was essentially a poll tax. In an October 19, 2015 decision, the district court found that concerns about technical college IDs being unacceptable were unripe. Additionally, allegations of a poll tax were found to be moot, and claims about veterans IDs being unacceptable were dismissed on the merits. The district court held that it could not address the “plaintiffs’ principal argument—that some persons qualified to vote are entitled to relief because they face daunting obstacles to obtaining acceptable photo ID” because this issue was before the court in 2014 and the Seventh Circuit decision left “no room for further debate.” 819 F.3d 384. Following this decision, the Wisconsin legislature amended Act 23 to include veterans’ ID as acceptable forms of voter identification.

The plaintiffs appealed on the grounds that the district court did not properly reconsider their core argument: that voters face barriers to obtaining an acceptable ID and therefore are entitled to relief. In a decision made April 12, 2016, the Seventh Circuit confirmed that the district court could consider this argument and remanded for further proceedings. 819 F.3d 384.

On July 19, 2016, after further proceedings, Judge Adelman granted a preliminary injunction allowing voters without IDs to sign an affidavit in place of the ID requirement for the November 8, 2016 election. In this decision, he also certified the class of plaintiffs in this case, defining the class “as all eligible Wisconsin voters who cannot with reasonable effort obtain qualifying ID.” 2016 WL 3948068. On July 29, 2016, the district court denied the defendants’ motion to stay the preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs moved to add a new plaintiff to the case and for a temporary restraining order to ensure that the new plaintiff’s provision ballot would be counted despite not having a valid ID. On November 10, 2016, Judge Adelman granted the plaintiffs’ motion to file a supplemental complaint but denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order. The supplemental complaint was filed the same day.

The case is ongoing, and the parties are currently conducting discovery.

Rachel Barr - 02/09/2017
Virginia Weeks - 10/22/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Vote dilution
Voter id
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Voting Rights Act, section 2, 42 U.S.C. § 1973
Defendant(s) The State of Wisconsin
Plaintiff Description Eligible Wisconsin voters
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
2:11-cv-01128-LA (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
VR-WI-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/13/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 31]
VR-WI-0017-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/02/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision and Order [Permanent Injunction, Motion for Class Certification, Motion for Judgment on Partial Findings] [ECF# 195] (17 F.Supp.3d 837) (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/29/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision and Order [Motion for Stay] [ECF# 212] (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/13/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Order and Opinion, Permanent Injunction] (768 F.3d 744)
VR-WI-0017-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/06/2014
Decision and Order [Unresolved Claims] [ECF# 250] (141 F.Supp.3d 932) (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/19/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Unresolved Claims] [Ct. of App. ECF# 00712751553] (819 F.3d 384)
VR-WI-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/12/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision and Order [Motion for Preliminary Injunction] [ECF# 294] (196 F.Supp.3d 893) (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision and Order [Motion for Stay] [ECF# 311] (2016 WL 4059226) (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Complaint [ECF# 326]
VR-WI-0017-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/10/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Adelman, Lynn S. (E.D. Wis.)
VR-WI-0017-0002 | VR-WI-0017-0003 | VR-WI-0017-0005 | VR-WI-0017-0006 | VR-WI-0017-0008 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit)
VR-WI-0017-0004 | VR-WI-0017-0010
Sykes, Diane S. (Seventh Circuit)
Tinder, John Daniel (Seventh Circuit, S.D. Ind.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abudu, Nancy G. (Georgia)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Bauman, Tristia (District of Columbia)
VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Cunningham, Karen (District of Columbia)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Dupuis, Laurence J. (Wisconsin)
VR-WI-0017-0001 | VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Falls, Craig G (District of Columbia)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Foster, Nathan D. (Colorado)
Ho, Dale E. (New York)
VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Johnson, Heather Maria (California)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Lakin, Sophia L. (New York)
VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Liu, Angela M. (Illinois)
McDonald, Moffatt Laughlin (Georgia)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Princ, Diane (New York)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Rosen, Jeremy N. (District of Columbia)
Rotker, Karyn (Wisconsin)
VR-WI-0017-0001 | VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Sherman, Jonathan L. (Georgia)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Steiner, Neil (New York)
VR-WI-0017-0007 | VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Young, Sean J (New York)
VR-WI-0017-0009 | VR-WI-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bellavia, Thomas C. (Wisconsin)
Benedon, Carrie M. (Massachusetts)
Johnson-Karp, Gabe (Wisconsin)
Kawski, Clayton P. (Wisconsin)
Keenan, Brian P. (Wisconsin)
Lazar, Maria S. (Wisconsin)
Lennington, Daniel P (Wisconsin)
Murphy, Sean Michael (Wisconsin)
Schmelzer, Jody J. (Wisconsin)
Other Lawyers Fitzgerald, Lane HW (Wisconsin)
Morley, Michael T. (District of Columbia)
Olson, Joseph Louis (Wisconsin)

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