Matt Rothschild
Op Ed

Rick Esenberg’s Brutal Views On Disabled People

WILL leader pushes state high court to prevent severely disabled from voting.

By - Apr 16th, 2022 03:01 pm
Rick Esenberg. Photo courtesy of Rick Esenberg.

Rick Esenberg. Photo courtesy of Rick Esenberg.

Rick Esenberg, the president of the righwing Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, was arguing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday and made some outrageous comments about the ability of persons with disabilities to vote.

The case at issue was Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, and the Court was hearing an appeal of the ruling earlier this year by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren, who not only outlawed drop boxes but also prohibited any person other than the actual voter from putting their absentee ballot in the mail.

Under this ruling, it’s illegal for me to take my wife’s absentee ballot and my absentee ballot and put both in our mailbox. That’s ridiculous.

Even worse, the ruling makes it impossible for some people with severe physical disabilities from voting if they can’t get to the polling place and they can’t put the absentee ballot in their mailbox themselves.

When asked by one of the justices whether this might violate the rights of persons with physical disabilities, Esenberg said three offensive things.

First, he said there was no evidence in this case that anyone in Wisconsin had their rights infringed upon in this way, even though one of the parties to the suit, Disability Rights Wisconsin, has furnished several accounts of voters with severe physical disabilities who are not able to put their absentee ballots in the mail.

Second, he asserted falsely that anyone who might have such physical disabilities could simply, somehow, have a postal carrier come into their home and pick it up, even though there is no provision in the U.S. Postal Service for such house calls and hand-offs.

And third, he blithely conceded that if a person with physical disabilities was, in fact, prevented from voting by Judge Bohren’s decision that they could seek redress in federal court down the road under the Voting Rights Act or some other federal law. This was a killer confession because even Esenberg seemed to understand that the Bohren decision collides with the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Help America Vote Act.

So why should the Wisconsin Supreme Court uphold a decision that runs afoul of federal law by discriminating against persons with physical disabilities?

That’s a question the justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are going to have to decide, with no help from Rick Esenberg.

Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

6 thoughts on “Op Ed: Rick Esenberg’s Brutal Views On Disabled People”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Grand Dragon Esenberg is a blight on this state.

  2. Mingus says:

    This man is heartless with a crass indifference to the less vulnerable. He needs to review the ethics of the oath that he took when he was became a member of the Wisconsin Bar. Money seems to make some people compromise their values in the real world and gets them to focus on as many ways as possible to undermine our democracy.

  3. Paul Nannis says:

    He’s a blight on our democracy

  4. Duane says:

    I read a short Milwaukee Journal article that the WI Supreme Court is expected to rule on this in late June. None of the unsavory points about Esenberg by Rothschild made it to that Milwaukee Journal article. The Journal article did cite Justice Jill Karofsky asking Esenberg “What if I take my envelope, and I seal it and I stick the stamp on it and I put my return address on it and I am standing at the mailbox and I hand it to my son to go the arm’s length from where I am standing into the mailbox?” “Has that been mailed by the elector?” Rick Esenberg replied, “Within the meaning of the statute, no, because you’ve given the ballot to somebody else”. Makes perfect sense if your point is to destroy democracy. I also suspect that even though local TV stations (none owned locally anymore) broadcast “news”, in some cases, 12 hours a day, they will not cover this issue until the ruling is made. Then the news robots might inform the public, if the corporate owned teleprompter allows them.

  5. NieWiederKrieg says:

    There’s something inherently evil about a person who grins, laughs, and smiles while committing acts of cruelty, malice, and hatred…

  6. TransitRider says:

    Duane, so a person in a wheelchair who can’t reach the slot in a regular mailbox and hands the ballot to a passer-by to drop it in the slot for them (while they watch) is committing voter fraud. And this at the same time that Mark Meadows (Trump’s Chief of Staff) voted in 2020 from a double-wide mobile home in the middle of nowhere where he apparently never lived in a state (NC) he had moved from after he left Congress.

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