MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) Voters, public employees, and same-sex couples will all be affected by three major rulings due out this morning by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The justices will announce long-awaited legal opinions on three of the state's most controversial laws from recent years -- the photo I-D requirement for voting, the domestic partner registry, and the Act-10 public union bargaining limits.
Madison attorney Lester Pines says he cannot remember a single day with so many momentous rulings -- and he's been around for over three decades. Former State Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske says it's a sign that the court remains divided. She says there's more "back-and-forth" in those complex cases.
The justices will decide whether Act-10 -- which was passed amid heavy protests three years ago -- applies to public school and local government employees. The law allows negotiations only for pay raises at or below inflation, with tighter requirements for union certifications and no obligation by non-union members to help cover union dues. No matter what happens today, state employees will remain under Act-10.
The voter I-D law has already been struck down by a federal court. Today, the state justices will rule on two cases in which circuit judges struck down the I-D requirement, saying it disenfranchises certain voters. The domestic partner registry gives same-sex couples about 40-percent of the legal benefits of married couples. Family advocates say it violates the 2006 ban on gay marriage -- the future of which is now in the federal courts.