WI Supreme Court Upholds Voter Photo ID, Act 10, Domestic Partner Registry

Jul 31, 2014

The state’s highest court ruled Thursday morning on three divisive issues.

The state Supreme Court handed down decisions Thursday on three issues that have divided Wisconsinites.

One is the 2011 law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. The second is Act 10, the 2011 law Gov. Scott Walker championed, to strip most collective bargaining rights from most public workers. The third is the 2009 law, which created a domestic partner registry. It allows gay and lesbian couples to access some of the benefits to which married couples are entitled.

The voter photo ID decision involved two of the four lawsuits filed to challenge the law. The ruling is moot, for the time being, because a federal judge struck down the photo ID requirement earlier this year. An appeals court must rule against the judge, in order for the law to go into effect. Supporters of the photo ID requirement say it would prevent fraud. Opponents say it discriminates against low-income and minority voters.

The decision on Act 10 involved a challenge filed by unions representing teachers in Madison and public workers in Milwaukee. They said the law restricting collective bargaining rights violated their constitutional rights to equal protection and free assembly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the law 5-2. Act 10 already had been upheld twice by a federal appeals court. Gov. Walker pushed for Act 10, saying it would help school districts and municipalities manage tight budgets.

The conservative group Wisconsin Family Action challenged the law creating the state’s domestic partner registry, saying it violated the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. The ban itself is now in question, because of a federal judge’s decision earlier this year that the ban is unconstitutional. Her decision is being appealed, with arguments scheduled for next month.