By Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
CHICAGO – Three federal judges expressed deep skepticism Friday (Feb. 24) over claims that Wisconsin Republicans had deliberately made it harder for minorities to vote, raising the prospect they would reinstate limits on early voting.
Judge Frank Easterbrook of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said those challenging Wisconsin’s voting laws were contending that Democrats can expand voting rules to help their party at the polls but Republicans can’t tighten them to their advantage.
“That can’t be right,” he said during arguments in a pair of Wisconsin cases.
His colleagues on the panel — Judges Michael Kanne and Diane Sykes — showed they had just as many doubts about lower court rulings that struck down voting rules set by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers.
Since 2011, Republicans in Wisconsin have approved the voter ID law, eliminated early voting on weekends and tightened other voting regulations. A string of lawsuits followed.
Last year, U.S. District Judge James Peterson in Madison struck down the restrictions on early voting and a prohibition on allowing early voting in more than one place in each municipality. He found those laws discriminated against minorities.