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Seventh Circuit Rules State Can't Ban Tribal Video Poker

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit has ruled that Wisconsin must criminalize video poker before it can ban an American Indian tribe from engaging in it, the Associated Press reports. As a result, the Ho-Chunk Nation can offer video poker at its Madison casino because video poker is only a civil offense when establishments that serve alcohol possess them.

Amendment Supporters Challenge Chief Justice's Civil Rights Lawsuit

A group of Wisconsin voters who favor a constitutional change that would let a majority vote, not seniority, determine the Wisconsin chief justice have moved to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the current sitting chief justice to attack the amendment, Wisconsin Watchdog's M.D. Kittle reports.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahmson is a liberal, and many conservatives in Wisconsin supported the constitutional amendment in order to allow the conservative majority on the court pick a new leader. Voters approved the amendment earlier this month, and Abrahamson immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment on the grounds of due process and equal protection.


Wisconsin Chief Justice Sues Over Constitutional Amendment That Could Cost Her Post

After Wisconsin voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday to allow that state's Supreme Court justices to vote on who should lead the court, the current chief justice has filed a lawsuit against the amendment, the Associated Press' Scott Bauer reports.

Before the amendment was approved, the most senior jurist on the Wisconsin Supreme Court filled the chief justice position. Shirley Abrahamson, a liberal member of the court, is expected to be removed as chief justice because there is a four-justice conservative majority.

Abrahamson is arguing that the change should not be applied until after her current term ends in four years or if she leaves before then because otherwise her rights to due process and equal protection would be violated, Bauer reports.

On Tuesday, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, considered to be one of the two most liberal justices along with Abrahamson, won reelection, Bauer also reports.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Takes on Partisan Trappings

The New York Times' Mitch Smith reports that Tuesday's election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court could reshape that judicial body. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, member of the court's liberal minority, is up for election (Judge James Daley is Bradley's opponent and is supported by Republicans, while she is supported by Democrats), and voters are being asked to approve a constitutional amendment to change how the chief justice is selected. If the amendment is approved, the justices would vote on who should be chief, instead of having the longest-serving member lead the court. Current Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson is considered part of the liberal bloc.

People with Disabilities Fight Wisconsin Budget Changes

People with disabilities are fighting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposed changes to long-term managed care in the state's budget, The Marshfield News-Herald's Liz Welter reports. They are concerned that changes to managed care would trade a community-centered system with a state-wide approach run by out-of-state insurance companies. They also are concerned that the autonomy the current system gives them to direct how some of their care is carried out would be eliminated.

Drone Legislation Proposed in Nevada, Wisconsin and Michigan

A bill is being proposed in Nevada that would place privacy restrictions on the use of drones, the Associated Press' Riley Snyder reports: the bill "would limit how police can use drones in investigations and require the state's public safety department to keep a public listing of all drones used by state agencies. The bill also criminalizes using a drone to take a clandestine photo of a person in a private setting and sets certain trespassing rules for drones flying under 250 feet."

In the Midwest, the Michigan House has approved a bill to prohibit the use of drones for hunting, and Wisconsin lawmakers held a hearing this week on further regulations for drones, the AP reports. Wisconsin already banned drones that are capable of videorecording from flying in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Gov. Walker Plans to Slash Autonomy in Long-Term Care for the Disabled

Disability rights advocates in Wisconsin are dismayed about a plan that would eliminate the autonomy that people with disabilities have to self-direct some of the money expended by the state government for their care. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has put forth a plan for long-term care for people with disabilities that would lead "the Department of Health Services to cease operation of other long-term care programs or waivers, including IRIS — a program for self-directed long-term care. IRIS currently has more than 11,000 participants, who choose the program because of their ability to self-direct their supports, including hiring their own caregiver," The Capital Times' Jessie Opoien reports.

Wisconsin Court Upholds Forcible Drunk-Driving Blood Sampling

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of drunk-driving defendants based on blood samples taken by force, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bruce Vielmetti reports. The court held in two cases that police relied in good faith on the law in place at the the time, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police must get warrants to draw blood in most cases. In a third case, the Wisconsin justices found that a coerced blood draw met an exception for exigent circumstances set out in the U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Missouri v. McNeely.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Takes Up Appeals Over Governor's Campaign

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has accepted three cases arising out of an investigation into whether Governor Scott Walker's campaign illegally coordinated with the conservative groups supporting him, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Patrick Marley reports.

The appeals will likely be shrouded with some secrecy: "Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice David Prosser ... expressed concern that much of the court record is sealed and not available to the public — a highly unusual situation for most matters that go before the state's high court," Marley reports.

The investigation is being conducted under a "John Doe proceeding," a unique procedure in Wisconsin in which a judge, instead of a grand jury, hears secret evidence in order to decide if there is a basis to charge a criminal offense.

Separately, Marley notes that four of the justices have benefited from spending by the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which is one of the groups at the center of the investigation. One justice recused herself because her son works at a law firm representing one of the targets of the investigation.

7th Circuit Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Bans in Wisconson & Indiana; LA Court Becomes First to Uphold Ban

The Seventh Circuit ruled today that Indiana's and Wisconsin's bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports. Judge Richard Posner, writing for the court, opined that “'the challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and the only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction — that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended — is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously,'” the Wisconsin Gazette reports.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who sits in Louisiana, became the first judge to rule that a state-level ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional, the AP also reports. According to the news wire, Feldman opined that "gay marriage supporters failed to prove that the ban violates equal protection or due process provisions of the Constitution. He also rejected an argument that the ban violated the First Amendment by effectively forcing legally married gay couples to state that they are single on Louisiana income tax returns. Furthermore, states have the right to define the institution of marriage, Feldman wrote."


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