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One Wisconsin Institute, Inc. v. Thomsen

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

October 13, 2016

ONE WISCONSIN INSTITUTE, INC., CITIZEN ACTION OF WISCONSIN EDUCATION FUND, INC., RENEE M. GAGNER, ANITA JOHNSON, CODY R. NELSON, JENNIFER S. TASSE, SCOTT T. TRINDL, MICHAEL R. WILDER, JOHNNY M. RANDLE, DAVID WALKER, DAVID APONTE, and CASSANDRA M. SILAS, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARK L. THOMSEN, ANN S. JACOBS, BEVERLY R. GILL, JULIE M. GLANCEY, STEVE KING, DON M. MILLS, MICHAEL HAAS, MARK GOTTLIEB, and KRISTINA BOARDMAN, all in their official capacities, Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Plaintiffs contend that defendants have not complied with the court's final order as it relates to the ID Petition Process (IDPP), and they ask the court to impose appropriate remedies. Based on the parties' written submissions, and a full-day hearing, the court finds that defendants have not complied with the court's order concerning the IDPP, because the public has not been adequately informed about the IDPP and DMV staff had not been adequately trained to administer it. The court will order remedies targeted to these problems.

         BACKGROUND

         After trial, the court held that Wisconsin's ID Petition Process is unconstitutional and must be reformed, and the court issued an injunction requiring that reform. Dkt. 234. Defendants requested a stay of the injunction pending appeal, which the court granted only in part. The court stayed the part of the order requiring comprehensive reform of the IDPP until after the appeal, because in the short term the most egregious deficiencies of the IDPP were ameliorated by an emergency rule issued just prior to trial in this case. The court's order, issued July 29, 2016, required the state to honor its commitment to the emergency rule and also to take some additional steps ensure that the IDPP would serve its purpose. Specifically, the court ordered defendants to:

a. Promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person who enters the IDPP or who has a petition pending;
b. Provide that any such credential has a term of expiration equivalent to that of a Wisconsin driver license or photo ID and will not be cancelled without cause;
c. Inform the general public that credentials valid for voting will be issued to persons who enter the IDPP[.]

Id. at 118-19.

         Both parties have appealed the court's order to the Seventh Circuit, and the appeal remains pending. In addition, plaintiffs sought immediate en banc review, and defendants sought a stay of the court's injunction. In large part, this matter is now within the jurisdiction of the appellate court, but this court has not been entirely divested of jurisdiction. In the order denying the request for en banc review and a stay of the injunction, the Seventh Circuit made clear that it expected this court to enforce its injunction through the November election. The court quotes the pertinent paragraph in full, because that paragraph informs the court's understanding of the scope of its authority, and of the importance of enforcing its injunction:

Given the State's representation that “initiation” of the IDPP means only that the voter must show up at a DMV with as much as he or she has, and that the State will not refuse to recognize the “initiation” of the process because a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, Social Security card, or other particular document is missing, we conclude that the urgency needed to justify an initial en banc hearing has not been shown. Our conclusion depends also on the State's compliance with the district court's second criterion, namely, that the State adequately inform the general public that those who enter the IDPP will promptly receive a credential for voting, unless it is plain that they are not qualified. The Western District has the authority to monitor compliance with its injunction, and we trust that it will do so conscientiously between now and the November 2016 election.

Frank v. Walker, No. 16-3003, 2016 WL 4524468, at *2 (7th Cir. Aug. 29, 2016). In other words, the Seventh Circuit forestalled immediate intervention in reliance on both the state's representations about the effectiveness of the IDPP and this court's enforcement of the injunction concerning public education about the IDPP.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         The court finds that defendants have not complied with the court's injunction in the following ways.

         On September 22, 2016, defendants submitted a report to the court indicating that the IDPP was working as required and that ...


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