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Mukwonago residents appeal Indians nickname case to Supreme Court

 

Mukwonago residents James Schoolcraft and Craig Vertz appealed a Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court today in a continuing effort to challenge the constitutionality of a Wisconsin law barring some Indians nicknames and logos.  

The petition filed by Attorney Sam Hall, from Crivello Carlson, claims that the Court of Appeals decision violates the Supremacy Clause in the United States Constitution. The petition argues that the local taxpayers have standing to sue based on the United States Supreme Court ruling that have prohibited "state efforts to burden, frustrate or discriminate against federal claims" like the federal constitutional claims raised by the Schoolcraft and Vertz. The petition also maintains that the law and its application violate taxpayers' due process and equal protection rights.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald Hassin, Jr. previously ruled that an official from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction had violated the constitutional rights of taxpayers in the Mukwonago Area School District to change its Indians nickname and logo, which have existed for nearly 100 years, according to a news release from Hall. The circuit ruling stated that the DPI official who held the hearing, Paul Sherman, testified that he understood that the DPI supported the elimination of all Indians nicknames, regardless of how they were used in individual schools, and that Sherman "could see" how people may have concerns with impropriety because he was responsible for issuing the decision.

On appeal, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals overturned the decision and instead ruled that the taxpayer did not have standing to bring the constitutional claims. The court held that Schoolcraft and Vertz should have attempted to become parties to the hearing by filing a request with Sherman or should have sought judicial review under state law rather than filing their federal civil rights lawsuit. Since the court ruled that Schoolcraft and Vertz did not have standing, the court did not consider whether the law violated the constitution.  

 

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