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Wisconsin Attorney General Won't Defend the State Domestic Partnership Law Against a Constitutional Challenge:

A reader passes along this statement from the Wisconsin Attorney General (and news reports seem to confirm that it's genuine):

In November 2006, Wisconsin voters amended our State Constitution to declare that marriage was between one man and one woman. The amendment prohibits our government from recognizing any other legal status substantially similar to marriage. But the general domestic partnership provisions contained in Act 28 do just that -– recognize a legal status that is substantially similar to the legal status of marriage.

That is why I cannot represent the state in this case.

My decision isn’t based on a policy disagreement. As Attorney General, I prosecute and defend laws that I wouldn’t have voted for if I were a policymaker. That is what I believe the job entails.

But I will not ignore the Constitution. My oath isn’t to the legislature or the governor. My duty is to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the highest expression of their will — the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. When the people have spoken by amending our Constitution, I will abide by their command. When policymakers have ignored their words, I will not.

To defend the law would require me to ignore the command of the voters when they passed the recent marriage amendment or to ignore the expressly stated intent of the legislature in enacting Chapter 770. I am unwilling to do either.

The e-mail from the Attorney General's office containing the statement also contained the following:

BACKGROUND AND BASIS FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL’S DECISION NOT TO DEFEND STATE IN CHALLENGE TO DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP LAW (CHAPTER 770)

It also notes, in answering the question, "Will the Law Be Defended?," that "Wisconsin law authorizes the governor to appoint special counsel."

I haven't looked at this closely, and thus have no opinion on whether the Attorney General's position is sound, but the story struck me as interesting, so I thought I'd note it. Thanks to Matt Bower for the pointer.

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