Current Events vs. Founding Documents

This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.

Judge Adelman's Distortion

Constitution, voter ID

Entry 218

Current Event

According to the Journal Sentinel, April 29, 2014

Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's voter ID law

In a decision that could have implications nationally and in Wisconsin's November elections, a federal judge on Tuesday struck down the state's voter ID law, saying it violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

"There is no way to determine exactly how many people Act 23 will prevent or deter from voting without considering the individual circumstances of each of the 300,000 plus citizens who lack an ID," U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote in his 70-page ruling. "But no matter how imprecise my estimate may be, it is absolutely clear that Act 23 will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

Adelman, who is based in Milwaukee, found the state didn't have an appropriate rationale for imposing a voter ID requirement. In-person voter impersonation — the only type of fraud a voter ID law can prevent — is nonexistent or virtually nonexistent in Wisconsin, he wrote.

"The defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past."

Adelman, a former Democratic state senator known for sponsoring the state's open records law, determined that in practice the law requiring voters to show one of nine types of photo IDs at the polls established an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. It also violated the federal Voting Rights Act because its effects hit Latinos and African-Americans harder than whites, he wrote.

Vos said he would review the federal decision but so far saw little reason to respond to it, saying that Adelman acted as if he were still a lawmaker rather than a judge.

Vos said Republicans had tried to accommodate critics by allowing people to get free state-issued IDs. But Adelman found too many barriers remained for those who didn't have IDs; for instance, under the voter ID law, people still have to pay a fee to get copies of their birth certificates, which are necessary for the free IDs.


Federal Judges vs. The Constitution and the People


Founding Document


Excerpt from Federalist 78 (Alexander Hamilton)

The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise will instead of judgment, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body.


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“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. ”  (Federalist 45; James Madison)

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US Constitution; Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 We the People:


Paraphrasing from The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p 402 “strict scrutiny with this (clause of the 14th Amendment shown above) is limited to race, national origin and ethnicity”.    Judge Adelman side-stepped those criteria by claiming that the defendants failed to prove voter impersonation.  Since the burden of proof is normally on the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs should have been required to prove that photo IDs block qualified electors from voting based on race, national origin or ethnicity.  In the absence of such proof, his decision is a distortion of the Constitution.   As Representative Vos intimated, Judge Adelman decided according to his will instead of his judgment.



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