The State Supreme Court is expected to rule Thursday on three major issues. Opinions are scheduled for release dealing with challenges to portions of Act 10, Governor Scott Walker’s controversial law that stripped most public employee unions of their ability to collectively bargain, a law requiring voters to show a state-issued photo ID card at the polls, and the Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry.
The Act 10 case is based on a Dane County judge’s 2012 decision that it violates the constitutional rights of teachers in Madison and public workers union in Milwaukee to free assembly and equal protection under the law. A federal court has already upheld the law in its entirety.
The Supreme Court previously heard a challenge to Act 10 that was based on arguments that passage of the law violated the state’s open meetings laws, after lawmakers called a rushed committee hearing to advance the legislation during massive protests at the Capitol in the spring of 2011. Justices eventually ruled that the law was passed legally.
The impact of a decision on the voter ID requirement will likely be limited by the fact that a federal challenge remains active that has also blocked its enforcement. The high court heard two challenges to the law in February; one filed by the League of Women Voters and the other by the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP. The League claims the law is unconstitutional because it creates a new class of voter, those who lack a photo ID, while the NAACP argues it disenfranchises voters who may have difficulty obtaining a photo ID that qualifies under the law. The challenges resulted in an injunction being issued in early 2012, shortly after the voter ID requirement was in effect for just a single election.
The domestic partnership registry was created under the 2009 state budget, but was challenged by conservative groups who argue it violates the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. A federal judge recently struck down the ban, although the ruling is being appealed.