The Supreme Court decision today in an Ohio case underscores what many have felt concerning the attempt by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Von Hollen to sue the state election’s authority. To do so in the manner that Van Hollen has outlined, and in the time frame only weeks before an election, shows to many a desire by the GOP to undermine the electoral process, and place confusion ahead of the desire to see democracy play itself out. There are more important needs in the electoral process than protecting the GOP from being handed their butts on a platter in November. The Supreme Court made that plain today.
A U.S. Supreme Court order today in an Ohio case could make waves in Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s lawsuit against the state’s election authority.
A lawyer for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board said today’s court order affirms his argument that Van Hollen does not have the authority to bring his lawsuit. But a state Department of Justice lawyer said the order would have no effect on Van Hollen’s ability to continue his suit because he is trying to enforce state election laws – not federal ones – as a state official.
The U.S. Supreme Court today lifted a requirement put on Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by a federal appeals court that would have forced her to provide local election clerks with lists of people whose voter registration data did not match driver’s license or Social Security records. The high court said the Ohio Republican Party was unlikely to succeed in arguments that it had the power to bring the original case against Brunner.
Lester Pines, a lawyer for the Wisconsin elections board, said the decision meant Van Hollen didn’t have any authority to bring his lawsuit. Van Hollen last month asked a Dane County judge to force the board to check voter information for people who registered to vote between January 2006 and August 2008.
A federal law required the checks to be run starting on Jan. 1, 2006, but Wisconsin didn’t start them until Aug. 6, 2008, because of technical difficulties.
“A state attorney general is in no different position than a private litigant…,” Pines said, adding that he would file a brief on the matter on Monday.
But Kevin St. John, an aide to Van Hollen, said the U.S. Supreme Court order has no implications for his case.
That’s because Van Hollen – who, he noted, is a state official rather than a private citizen – filed his case under state, rather than federal, law. The state law mirrors the federal Help America Vote Act that is at the heart of the Ohio case.
“They are absolutely different,” St. John said of the two cases.
Van Hollen and other Republicans have argued the case will guard against voter fraud, while Democrats have claimed it will block legitimate voters from casting ballots.
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi is slated to hear arguments in the case Thursday.