Wis. Supreme Court upholds will of the people on marriage

July 2, 2010 03:53

State high court unanimously thwarts attack on marriage amendment adopted by voters

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court Wednesday unanimously refused to tear down a state constitutional amendment adopted by voters that affirms marriage as the union of one man and one woman and prohibits the state from manufacturing other legal relationships that masquerade as marriage. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year on behalf of the Wisconsin Family Council in defense of the amendment, which a lower court upheld as constitutional.

“Voters adopted the marriage amendment in Wisconsin for one clear and simple reason: to protect the institution of marriage,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Jim Campbell. “We should be strengthening–not undermining–marriage, which is one man and one woman. Once again, activists tried to use the courts to force something on the people that they have repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected.”

“The lawsuit’s accusation that the marriage amendment addresses multiple subjects was just a sneaky attempt to tear down what the voters clearly wanted,” said Wisconsin Family Council President Julaine K. Appling. “The court was right to reject this baseless lawsuit. Judges and politicians should never toss aside the will of the people in order to impose a system that intentionally deprives children of a mom and dad. Which parent doesn’t matter: a mom or a dad?”

In November 2006, more than 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approved the state’s marriage amendment, which spurred University of Wisconsin professor William McConkey to file a lawsuit against the governor in July 2007. In a technical argument, McConkey claimed that the amendment unconstitutionally addresses two subjects instead of one.

ADF attorneys argued, as they have in previous friend-of-the-court briefs, that the amendment deals with only one issue–preserving and protecting the institution of marriage–and therefore does not violate the requirement that a state constitutional provision address only one subject. A Dane County Circuit judge ruled in favor of the amendment in May 2008, agreeing that the amendment’s sole purpose is “the preservation of the unique and historical status of marriage.”

In its 7–0 opinion, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that “the two propositions contained in the marriage amendment plainly relate to the subject of marriage. And as the text of the amendment and context of its adoption make clear, the general purpose of the marriage amendment is to preserve the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman. Both propositions in the marriage amendment relate to and are connected with this purpose. Therefore, the marriage amendment does not violate the separate amendment rule of Article XII, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. Rather, the marriage amendment was adopted by the people of Wisconsin using the process prescribed by the constitution, and is properly now part of our constitution.”

ADF attorneys and the Wisconsin Family Council filed their most recent friend-of-the-court brief in McConkey v. Van Hollen together with Samuel Taylor of Kenosha, one of nearly 1,700 attorneys in the ADF alliance.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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Note: Facts in ADF news releases are verified prior to publication but may change over time. Members of the media are encouraged to contact ADF for the latest information on this matter.

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