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WI Supreme Court to hear challenges to Act 10, Domestic Partner Registry

Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Brass Milled Gavel By walknboston (Flickr: Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed late Friday afternoon to rule on whether the Act 10 public union bargaining limits apply to local government and school unions.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Madison did not rule on the matter. It asked the justices to take the case, citing its statewide importance.

Last September, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas said Act 10 is unconstitutional. However, it was never made clear whether that’s true for local unions statewide, or just the parties that filed the suit – Madison Teachers Incorporated and a Milwaukee city employee union.

In the days after the ruling, a number of public unions and employers in Madison scrambled to get new contracts in place before the state could win an appeal and get the Colas ruling overturned.

Act 10 took effect almost two years ago. It virtually ended bargaining privileges for most state and local unions. The law has remained in place for state employees, despite several attempts to throw it out in court. 

Also Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court agreed to rule on whether the state’s Domestic Partner Registry is constitutional.

The Wisconsin Family Action group has tried three times to get the justices to consider throwing out the registry – and the court finally agreed to consider it.

Former Governor Jim Doyle and legislative Democrats created the registry in 2009. It allows same-sex couples to have a fraction of the legal benefits that married couples have.

Family Action contends that the registry violates the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

When Republicans took control of state government in 2011, they agreed that the registry must go – and they had the state stop defending the lawsuit.

The gay rights group Fair Wisconsin is now fighting to keep the domestic registry in place.

A Dane County judge and an appellate court have both ruled that it’s constitutional.

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