The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided not to hear a case involving the constitutionality of domestic partnership benefits this week.
According to court documents, the justices reviewed the case this week and decided the case should be tried in lower courts instead of directly by the Supreme Court.
The case in question, Appling v. Doyle, where Wisconsin Family Action CEO Julaine Appling filed a petition of original jurisdiction stating the domestic partner benefits set up in the 2009-11 biennium budget by Gov. Jim Doyle were in direct violation of a 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriages in the state.
Original jurisdiction brings the matter straight before the Supreme Court instead of having it work through the lower courts.
Doyle spokesperson Lee Sensenbrenner commended the Supreme Court on its decision and said Doyle is confident the domestic partnership protections will be upheld in other courts.
Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin, was also pleased with the order of the court, saying the protections for same-sex couples in no way violates the gay marriage ban.
“These protections are not like marriage; these are just basic protections for same sex couples in order to give them more rights,” Belanger said.
Belanger added though the future legal plans of Wisconsin Family Action are still unknown, Fair Wisconsin is committed to defending the domestic partnership protections at any level.
In a statement released Wednesday, Wisconsin Family Action’s attorneys Richard Esenberg and Michael Dean said the Supreme Court rarely exercises original jurisdiction and said the organization chose that avenue in order to ensure quick action.
“While we are disappointed, we know that the court’s decision to decline original jurisdiction can be based on any number of factors and implies nothing about the merits of the constitutional challenge,” Esenberg and Dean said.
They added the case can now be presented to a circuit court, and they are currently preparing for the next steps of the process.
University of Wisconsin political science professor Donald Downs said he thinks the claim the domestic partners legislation is “substantially similar” to marriage or civil unions will probably fail, but it is still an issue being pushed today.