7th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
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Recent Civil Rights Law Decisions

On Friday, a panel of the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Frank v. Walker, a challenge to Wisconsin's voter ID law (listen to an MP3 here).

Following oral arguments, the panel issued an order allowing enforcement of the state's voter ID law, which means the law will likely be in effect during the upcoming November 4 election.

Predictably, both Indiana and Wisconsin are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court following their blistering loss last week at the Seventh Circuit.

At both oral arguments and in the written opinion, Judge Richard Posner did almost as much damage to them as Tom Brady did to my fantasy football team over the weekend.

Here's a look at what the two states are arguing in their petitions:

A month after the Wisconsin Supreme Court voiced its opinion on two challenges to Wisconsin's Voter ID law, the Seventh Circuit is set to hear an appeal of a district court's ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Wisconsin's High Court ruled in favor of the law, against two different challenges brought by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, which has some wondering if the Seventh Circuit will follow suit.

An unusual caveat in the Wisconsin Supreme Court's opinion -- that voter identification must be free -- could also come into play.

A mere nine days after oral argument, the Seventh Circuit on Thursday affirmed a trial court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. It's the latest in a near-unanimous string of court rulings to strike down such bans as unconstitutional.

The Seventh Circuit's decision was fast -- and unsurprising. At oral arguments, Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the opinion, was incredibly dismissive of state arguments that the bans were necessary.

"What is the objection to polygamy?"

"The argument you're making is exactly what was rejected in Loving."

"Do you want kids adopted by homosexual parents to be worse off?"

"How? How does it hurt heterosexual marriage? How does it hurt children?"

The questions came fast and furious from all three judges today, and neither side of the arguments in Wolf v. Walker, a Wisconsin same-sex marriage case, and Baskin v. Bogan, Indiana's counterpart, was let off the hook, despite same-sex marriage advocates striking the lottery with the panel assignment.

If today's bloodbath is any indication, the Seventh Circuit panel is going to find in favor of gay marriage. Somebody, however, is going to have to find a credible argument to defend other traditional prohibitions against polygamy, marriage of cousins, etc., if those prohibitions have any chance of surviving inevitable challenges in the future.

The tsunami of same-sex marriage cases sweeping the country is seeing a new trend: consolidation of cases on appeal. The same-sex marriage cases working their way through the Seventh Circuit, challenging Indiana and Wisconsin laws, are no different.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit denied motions for en banc review, and later changed the hearing date from August 13 to August 26, reports The Associated Press. As we near the oral arguments date, let's take a closer look at the cases the Seventh Circuit will be reviewing.

Perhaps these requests have something to do with the Seventh Circuit's cancellation of previously scheduled oral arguments in two gay marriage appeals out of Wisconsin and Indiana. Earlier this month, the appeals were combined and fast-tracked for oral arguments on August 13.

Late last week, however, the Seventh Circuit issued this release (H/T to Equality on Trial):

The court, on its own motion, ORDERS that the oral argument in this appeal, scheduled for Wednesday, August 13, 2014, is VACATED. A new oral argument date will be set by separate court order.

Okay, but why? It might have something to do with requests from the states of Indiana and Wisconsin to proceed directly to an en banc hearing of the case, rather than the typical three-judge panel.

The Sixth Circuit is not alone in consolidating appeals of same sex marriage cases within the circuit: last week, the Seventh Circuit consolidated two same sex marriage cases.

The Seventh Circuit also recently decided a case affecting all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes, and is going to hear a case about an Indiana law regulating the sale of cold beer. Finally, our favorite benchslapper speaks out.

Read on for details on all of these stories.

There's some interesting summer action happening in the Seventh Circuit -- summer time is no time for fun and games, apparently. As things heat up outside, they are heating up headlines and court rooms as we wait on some key decisions.

Read on to find out more on John Doe Probes, Rod Blagojovich and the latest trend in contraception mandate litigation.

Earlier in May, we noted that a case originating in the Seventh Circuit, Elmsbrook School District v. John Doe was languishing in certiorari purgatory, as the case -- at that time -- had already been distributed for conference eight times.

After supplemental briefs were filed, the case was distributed for conference four more times. The twelfth time was a charm apparently, as the Court finally decided whether to grant or deny cert.