Supreme Court Declines to Hear Voter Registration Case


• The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law.

The decision is a setback for civil rights groups that had hoped the court would take up the case and find that the law disproportionately impacts racial minorities, seniors, students and those with disabilities.

Republicans believe that voter ID laws prevent fraud during elections, while Democrats believe that such laws are passed in order to suppress demographics that are more likely to vote for their party. Wisconsin’s law was passed by the legislature in 2011 and signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Last year, a federal district judge declared it unconstitutional, but in September a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

The Supreme Court blocked the law from taking effect ahead of the election, as absentee ballots already had been mailed containing no information about the need to present photo identification. Legal experts believe the justices will eventually decide to settle the issue.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court will not consider the Wisconsin voter ID case, because it is a matter of national importance. Moreover we are shocked that the Court would announce this so close to a very important election. We hope the Court will grant an emergency stay of the law through this election,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

• The Nature Conservancy released a recent bipartisan statewide poll showing that, across the political spectrum, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly agree on the need to continue dedicated state funding for land, water and wildlife conservation.

The findings come at a time when there is a proposal in the 2015-2017 state budget to end public funding for land and water conservation through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

“Nearly nine-in-10 Wisconsin voters believe that, even when the budget is tight, the state should continue to invest in protecting Wisconsin’s land, water and wildlife,” said Lori Weigel from Public Opinion Strategies. “Most voters also said that one of the best things state government does is protect Wisconsin’s natural areas, outdoor recreation and history in state parks and other public lands.”

When specifically asked about the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program – Wisconsin’s land and water conservation program – two-thirds of voters say they would have a more favorable impression of a legislator who voted in favor of continuing to protect natural areas, wildlife habitat and parks in Wisconsin through the Stewardship Program.

According to the poll, voters also overwhelming believe that protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources is important to a healthy economy, with nine-in-10 saying that protecting water quality and land in Wisconsin is critical to keeping the state’s economy strong.


• David Gerard, chair of Lawrence University’s Department of Economics, will give a talk titled “The Answer Is a Carbon Tax: What’s the Question?” at the April 1 meeting of the Climate Change Coalition of Door County.

The talk, at Björklunden, 7590 Boynton Lane, Baileys Harbor, begins at 7 pm. It is free, and the public is welcome. Gerard will review the considerable consensus about climate policy that the economics profession has reached. He will outline projected impacts of fossil fuel emissions on global temperatures and discuss the economic and political challenges associated with mitigating carbon emissions, drawing in part on his research in electricity generation costs and “clean coal” technologies.

He will also present some basic tradeoffs between mitigation, adaptation and economic growth. Gerard has been at Lawrence since 2009. Before that he was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University.

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, a statewide tornado drill is planned. At 1 pm, the National Weather Service will issue a statewide mock tornado watch and at 1:45 pm a statewide mock tornado warning.

Many radio and TV stations will participate in the drill. In addition, NOAA weather radios (also known as emergency weather radios) will issue alert messaging. This is an ideal opportunity for schools, businesses and families to practice safe procedures for severe weather. If actual severe storms are expected in the state on Thursday, April 16, the tornado drill will be postponed until Friday, April 17, with the same times. If severe storms are possible Friday the drill will be cancelled.

Any changes will be issued to local media as well as posted on the ReadyWisconsin website, Facebook and Twitter pages. For more tornado preparedness information, visit