The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday accepted the appeal in Wisconsin Justice Initiative’s challenge to the victims’ rights constitutional amendment.
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the appeal includes consideration of all issues in the case. The parties will be notified of an oral argument date “in due course,” said the court’s order.
WJI and four individual plaintiffs won the case at the trial-court level. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank D. Remington declared that the ballot question used in April 2020 to pass what is known as the Marsy’s Law amendment failed to fully and fairly inform the public of the essential components of the amendment, misstated the contents and impact of the amendment, and improperly encompassed more than one subject. Remington enjoined implementation of the amendment but stayed his injunction pending appeal.
Attorney General Josh Kaul appealed the judgment to District III of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, located in Wausau. Kaul appealed on behalf of himself, the Wisconsin Elections Commission and its chair, and Secretary of State Douglas LaFollette.
The appeal was fully briefed in District III in April 2021 but the appeals court judges asked the Supreme Court to take the case (skipping a court of appeals decision) because WJI’s challenge to the constitutional amendment involves “significant questions” the answers to which “will have a sweeping effect on our criminal justice institutions and those operating within them.”
Thursday’s Supreme Court order allows the parties to submit new briefs or to stand on the briefs already filed. Any new briefing is scheduled to finish by mid-April 2022.
Attorney Dennis Grzezinski, representing the plaintiffs, responded to the certification by saying that the plaintiffs “look forward to the Wisconsin Supreme Court's review of the Dane County Circuit Court's well-reasoned and thorough decision protecting the right of all Wisconsin voters to be presented with adequate ballot questions when they are faced with voting on proposed amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution. Judge Remington properly found that the ballot question regarding the Marsy's Law amendments was legally inadequate — more than one ballot question was needed, and the single question on the ballot misled and misstated how the amendments changed our Constitution.”
After learning of the Supreme Court order WJI President Craig Johnson, also an individual plaintiff in the case, remarked “we've argued since the beginning that voters were not informed of the far-reaching effects this law would have on the justice system. We've now seen the chaos and confusion that has resulted. We look forward to making the case to the Supreme Court that the referendum failed to fully and fairly inform the voters what they were voting on."
"We look forward to making the case to the Supreme Court that the referendum failed to fully and fairly inform the voters what they were voting on."
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