A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Wisconsin high court upholds public unions restrictions and voter ID requirements

[JURIST] The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday issued a pair of rulings limiting the ability of public sector employees to unionize and requiring voters to present identification. In a 5-2 decision [opinion, PDF] in Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker, the court upheld legislation known as the Budget Repair Bill or Act 10 [text, PDF], which significantly limits the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. Act 10 was passed in 2011 with support from the executive office and Republican Gov. Scott Walker [official website]. A teachers union from Madison and a group of city employees from Milwaukee brought the suit and argued [Washington Post report] the law violates the their constitutional rights including free assembly and equal protection. Thursday's ruling effectively ended [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report] litigation on Act 10. In League of Women Voters v. Walker, the court ruled [opinion, PDF] 4-3 in favor of a 2011 law, known as Act 23 [text, PDF], that requires state residents to present photo identification to vote. Act 23 was struck down [JURIST report] in April by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In order for the voter ID requirements to take effect [AP report] in time for November's elections, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit must overturn the District Court's ruling. US Attorney General Eric Holder announced [press release] on Wednesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has filed amicus briefs in opposition to Act 23 with the Seventh Circuit, arguing that the law violates Section 2 of the Voter Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder] and the Fourteenth Amendment [text].

Debate over voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] has sparked controversy around the US. A total of 34 states have passed laws [NCSL backgrounder] requiring voters to show identification. In Ohio the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a complaint [press release, PDF] on May 1 in NAACP v. Husted in federal court to put an end to a new state law that stops early voting opportunities. In January the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court [official website] upheld its earlier decision and struck down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania's voter ID law.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.