Constitutional Law

Which laws are unworthy of defense? Four candidates for Wisconsin attorney general list them

Four lawyers running for Wisconsin attorney general have a list of laws they won’t defend.

The three Democratic candidates won’t defend or appeal rulings striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage, its voter ID law or recent restrictions on abortion, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Republican candidate won’t defend the state’s domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples.

The Democratic candidates face each other in the Aug. 12 primary.

Madison lawyer Lester Pines is critical of the candidates for their stance. The candidates “are confused about the obligations of the attorney general with regard to this issue,” Pines told the Milwaukee Journal.

Pines was hired by the state’s Democratic governor, Jim Doyle, to defend the state’s domestic partnership law when Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to do so. The state’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, fired Pines. A gay-rights group that intervened in the case then defended the law.

Pines says the attorney general must defend every law, even if he or she believes a law is unconstitutional, unless the state’s only arguments are frivolous.

At least seven state attorneys general have refused to defend gay-marriage bans, the story notes.

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