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June 30, 2010

1. Supreme Court finalizes recusal rule, considers how it will accept rules petitions

2. Supreme Court rejects challenge to marriage amendment

3. State League of Women Voters Annual Meeting available on Wisconsin Eye

4. League joins amicus brief in defending Impartial Justice law

5. Answers to suffrage quiz

The state Supreme Court yesterday finalized the rules written by business interests and adopted by the Court in a 4-3 vote earlier this year. The Court also discussed a proposal from Justice Patience Roggensack to amend the way the Court accepts and considers rules petitions. The justices welcomed the part of the proposal that would improve the court system's website to make public information more readily available. However, other aspects of the proposal were criticized because the timeline is unworkable and would allow for fewer public hearings by the Supreme Court. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley noted that the proposal is based on the Arizona court system, where justices have not held a public hearing on rules "in years" and make their decisions in closed session. Justice David Prosser agreed the Arizona system is not a good model because the Supreme Court justices there are not even elected officials. The Court agreed to form a study committee to recommend a workable way to consider rules petitions.

The state Supreme Court this morning rejected a challenge filed by citizen William McConkey to the amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. The amendment was adopted by voters in 2006. With the assistance of attorney Matthew O'Neill, the League filed an amicus brief supporting Mr. McConkey's standing to make the challenge based on his right as a voter in Wisconsin to have only one question posed in a referendum. The Court accepted his standing, but ruled that the amendment's two sentences "tend to effect or carry out the same general purpose" and therefore the referendum was valid. The League opposed the amendment in 2006 based on our long-held anti-discrimination position, and this month delegates at the national League convention voted to support marriage equality.

Check Wisconsin Eye to view the Supreme Court's June 29 open administrative conference about rules petitions, as well as the deliberations about Mr. McConkey's challenge to the marriage amendment. You also can view Wisconsin Eye's recording of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Annual Meeting.

The League has joined other reform groups in defending Wisconsin's Impartial Justice law, which provides public financing for Supreme Court elections. Working with the Brennan Center for Justice and attorneys with Stafford Rosenbaum in Madison and Sidley Austin in Chicago, we have filed a new motion to intervene in the cases of two legal challenges to the new law.

Here are the answers (PDF) to last week's Women's Suffrage Quiz, compiled by LWV Dane County! 

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