VII,4(1) (1) The supreme court shall have 7 members who shall be known as justices of the supreme court. Justices shall be elected for 10-year terms of office commencing with the August 1 next succeeding the election. Only one justice may be elected in any year. Any 4 justices shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of the court's business.

VII,4(2) (2) The justice having been longest a continuous member of said court, or in case 2 or more such justices shall have served for the same length of time, the justice whose term first expires, shall be the chief justice. The justice so designated as chief justice may, irrevocably, decline to serve as chief justice or resign as chief justice but continue to serve as a justice of the supreme court.

VII,4(3) (3) The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system and shall exercise this administrative authority pursuant to procedures adopted by the supreme court. The chief justice may assign any judge of a court of record to aid in the proper disposition of judicial business in any court of record except the supreme court. [1876 J.R. 10, 1877 J.R. 1, 1877 c. 48, vote Nov. 1877; 1887 J.R. 5, 1889 J.R. 3, 1889 c. 22, vote April 1889; 1901 J.R. 8, 1903 J.R. 7, 1903 c. 10, vote April 1903; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,5 Judicial circuits. Section 5. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,5(1) Court of appeals. Section 5. [As created April 1977] (1) The legislature shall by law combine the judicial circuits of the state into one or more districts for the court of appeals and shall designate in each district the locations where the appeals court shall sit for the convenience of litigants.

VII,5(2) (2) For each district of the appeals court there shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the district one or more appeals judges as prescribed by law, who shall sit as prescribed by law. Appeals judges shall be elected for 6-year terms and shall reside in the district from which elected. No alteration of district or circuit boundaries shall have the effect of removing an appeals judge from office during the judge's term. In case of an increase in the number of appeals judges, the first judge or judges shall be elected for full terms unless the legislature prescribes a shorter initial term for staggering of terms.

VII,5(3) (3) The appeals court shall have such appellate jurisdiction in the district, including jurisdiction to review administrative proceedings, as the legislature may provide by law, but shall have no original jurisdiction other than by prerogative writ. The appeals court may issue all writs necessary in aid of its jurisdiction and shall have supervisory authority over all actions and proceedings in the courts in the district. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

Court of appeals does not have jurisdiction to entertain original action unrelated to its supervisory or appellate authority over circuit court. State ex rel. Swan v. Elections Bd., 133 W (2d) 87, 394 NW (2d) 732 (1986).

VII,6 Circuit court: boundaries. Section 6. [As amended April 1977] The legislature shall prescribe by law the number of judicial circuits, making them as compact and convenient as practicable, and bounding them by county lines. No alteration of circuit boundaries shall have the effect of removing a circuit judge from office during the judge's term. In case of an increase of circuits, the first judge or judges shall be elected. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,7 Circuit court: election. Section 7. [As amended April 1897, Nov. 1924 and April 1977] For each circuit there shall be chosen by the qualified electors thereof one or more circuit judges as prescribed by law. Circuit judges shall be elected for 6-year terms and shall reside in the circuit from which elected. [1895 J.R. 8, 1897 J.R. 9, 1897 c. 69, vote April 1897; 1921 J.R. 24S, 1923 J.R. 64, 1923 c. 408, vote Nov. 1924; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,8 Circuit court: jurisdiction. Section 8. [As amended April 1977] Except as otherwise provided by law, the circuit court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters civil and criminal within this state and such appellate jurisdiction in the circuit as the legislature may prescribe by law. The circuit court may issue all writs necessary in aid of its jurisdiction. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

The rule of State ex rel. Dore v. Stoltz, 42 W (2d) 534 is not limited to post-bindover situations. State ex rel. Cullen v. Ceci, 45 W (2d) 432, 173 NW (2d) 175.

Although prohibition is not the appropriate remedy to suppress prosecution on an illegal search warrant, the supreme court treated the case as a petition for habeas corpus. State ex rel. Furlong v. Waukesha County Court, 47 W (2d) 515, 177 NW (2d) 333.

Certiorari cannot be used to upset the legislative discretion of a city council but the court should review the council's action to determine whether there was a rational factual basis for it. The review is limited to the record consisting of the petition and the return to the writ, plus matters of which the court could take judicial notice. State ex rel. Hippler v. Baraboo, 47 W (2d) 603, 178 NW (2d) 1.

A writ of prohibition may not be used to test the admissibility of evidence at an impending trial. State ex rel. Cortez v. Bd. of F. & P. Comm. 49 W (2d) 130, 181 NW (2d) 378.

Jurisdiction depends not on whether the relief asked for is available, but on whether the court has the power to hear the kind of action brought; hence it is not defeated by the possibility that averments in a complaint might fail to state a cause of action, for any such failure calls for a judgment on the merits not for a dismissal for want of jurisdiction. Murphy v. Miller Brewing Co. 50 W (2d) 323, 184 NW (2d) 141.

Mandamus is a discretionary writ and the order of a trial court refusing to quash it will not be reversed except for abuse of discretion. A court can treat it as a motion for declaratory relief. Milwaukee County v. Schmidt, 52 W (2d) 58, 187 NW (2d) 777.

Certiorari to review a final order of the Milwaukee Civil Service Commission must be brought within 6 months of the order. State ex rel. Czapiewski v. Milw. C. S. Comm. 54 W (2d) 535, 196 NW (2d) 742.

Differences between common law and statutory certiorari discussed. Browndale International v. Board of Adjustment, 60 W (2d) 182, 208 NW (2d) 121.

Statutory designation of circuit court branches as criminal court branches does not deprive other branches of criminal jurisdiction. Dumer v. State, 64 W (2d) 590, 219 NW (2d) 592.

Circuit court review of a decision of the city of Milwaukee Board of Fire and Police Commissioners was proper via writ of certiorari. Edmonds v. Board of Fire & Police Commrs. 66 W (2d) 337, 224 NW (2d) 575.

Judge having jurisdiction of the person and subject matter involved and acting within jurisdiction and in judicial capacity, is exempt from civil liability. Abdella v. Catlin, 79 W (2d) 270, 255 NW (2d) 516.

Although constitution grants judiciary power to order sterilization of incompetents, in deference to legislature court declined to exercise power. In Matter of Guardianship of Eberhardy, 102 W (2d) 539, 307 NW (2d) 881 (1981).

Because courts have exclusive criminal jurisdiction, criminal charges against defendant were not collaterally estopped even though parole revocation hearing examiner concluded that defendant's acts did not merit parole revocation. State v. Spanbauer, 108 W (2d) 548, 322 NW (2d) 511 (Ct. App. 1982).

While circuit courts possess plenary jurisdiction not dependent upon legislative authorization, under some circumstances they may lack competency to act. In Interest of L.M.C. 146 W (2d) 377, 430 NW (2d) 352 (Ct. App. 1988).

VII,9 Judicial elections, vacancies. Section 9. [As amended April 1953 and April 1977] When a vacancy occurs in the office of justice of the supreme court or judge of any court of record, the vacancy shall be filled by appointment by the governor, which shall continue until a successor is elected and qualified. There shall be no election for a justice or judge at the partisan general election for state or county officers, nor within 30 days either before or after such election. [1951 J.R. 41, 1953 J.R. 12, vote April 1953; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,10 Judges: eligibility to office. Section 10. [As amended Nov. 1912 and April 1977]

VII,10(1) (1) No justice of the supreme court or judge of any court of record shall hold any other office of public trust, except a judicial office, during the term for which elected. No person shall be eligible to the office of judge who shall not, at the time of election or appointment, be a qualified elector within the jurisdiction for which chosen.

VII,10(2) (2) Justices of the supreme court and judges of the courts of record shall receive such compensation as the legislature may authorize by law, but may not receive fees of office. [1909 J.R. 34, 1911 J.R. 24, 1911 c. 665, vote Nov. 1912; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,11 Terms of courts; change of judges. Section 11. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,11 Disciplinary proceedings. Section 11. [As created April 1977] Each justice or judge shall be subject to reprimand, censure, suspension, removal for cause or for disability, by the supreme court pursuant to procedures established by the legislature by law. No justice or judge removed for cause shall be eligible for reappointment or temporary service. This section is alternative to, and cumulative with, the methods of removal provided in sections 1 and 13 of this article and section 12 of article XIII. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,12 Clerks of circuit and supreme courts. Section 12. [As amended Nov. 1882] There shall be a clerk of the circuit court chosen in each county organized for judicial purposes by the qualified electors thereof, who shall hold his office for two years, subject to removal as shall be provided by law; in case of a vacancy, the judge of the circuit court shall have power to appoint a clerk until the vacancy shall be filled by an election; the clerk thus elected or appointed shall give such security as the legislature may require. The supreme court shall appoint its own clerk, and a clerk of the circuit court may be appointed a clerk of the supreme court. [1881 J.R. 16A, 1882 J.R. 3, 1882 c. 290, vote Nov. 1882]

VII,13 Justices and judges: removal by address. Section 13. [As amended April 1974 and April 1977] Any justice or judge may be removed from office by address of both houses of the legislature, if two-thirds of all the members elected to each house concur therein, but no removal shall be made by virtue of this section unless the justice or judge complained of is served with a copy of the charges, as the ground of address, and has had an opportunity of being heard. On the question of removal, the ayes and noes shall be entered on the journals. [1971 J.R. 30, 1973 J.R. 25, vote April 1974; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

VII,14 Municipal court. Section 14. [As amended April 1977] The legislature by law may authorize each city, village and town to establish a municipal court. All municipal courts shall have uniform jurisdiction limited to actions and proceedings arising under ordinances of the municipality in which established. Judges of municipal courts may receive such compensation as provided by the municipality in which established, but may not receive fees of office. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

Municipal court has authority to determine constitutionality of municipal ordinance. City of Milwaukee v. Wroten, 160 W (2d) 207, 466 NW (2d) 861 (1991).

VII,15 Justices of the peace. Section 15. [Amended April 1945; repealed April 1966; see 1943 J.R. 27, 1945 J.R. 2, vote April 1945; 1963 J.R. 48, 1965 J.R. 50, vote April 1966.]

VII,16 Tribunals of conciliation. Section 16. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,17 Style of writs; indictments. Section 17. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,18 Suit tax. Section 18. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,19 Testimony in equity suits; master in chancery. Section 19. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,20 Rights of suitors. Section 20. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.] See Art. I, sec. 21.

VII,21 Publication of laws and decisions. Section 21. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.] See Art. IV, sec. 17.

VII,22 Commissioners to revise code of practice. Section 22. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,23 Court commissioners. Section 23. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]

VII,24 Justices and judges: eligibility for office; retirement. Section 24. [As created April 1955 and amended April 1968 and April 1977]

VII,24(1) (1) To be eligible for the office of supreme court justice or judge of any court of record, a person must be an attorney licensed to practice law in this state and have been so licensed for 5 years immediately prior to election or appointment.

VII,24(2) (2) Unless assigned temporary service under subsection (3), no person may serve as a supreme court justice or judge of a court of record beyond the July 31 following the date on which such person attains that age, of not less than 70 years, which the legislature shall prescribe by law.

VII,24(3) (3) A person who has served as a supreme court justice or judge of a court of record may, as provided by law, serve as a judge of any court of record except the supreme court on a temporary basis if assigned by the chief justice of the supreme court. [1953 J.R. 46, 1955 J.R. 14, vote April 1955; 1965 J.R. 101, 1967 J.R. 22 and 56, vote April 1968; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]

ARTICLE VIII
FINANCE
VIII,1 Rule of taxation uniform; income, privilege and occupation taxes. Section 1. [As amended Nov. 1908, April 1927, April 1941, April 1961 and April 1974] The rule of taxation shall be uniform but the legislature may empower cities, villages or towns to collect and return taxes on real estate located therein by optional methods. Taxes shall be levied upon such property with such classifications as to forests and minerals including or separate or severed from the land, as the legislature shall prescribe. Taxation of agricultural land and undeveloped land, both as defined by law, need not be uniform with the taxation of each other nor with the taxation of other real property. Taxation of merchants' stock-in-trade, manufacturers' materials and finished products, and livestock need not be uniform with the taxation of real property and other personal property, but the taxation of all such merchants' stock-in-trade, manufacturers' materials and finished products and livestock shall be uniform, except that the legislature may provide that the value thereof shall be determined on an average basis. Taxes may also be imposed on incomes, privileges and occupations, which taxes may be graduated and progressive, and reasonable exemptions may be provided. [1905 J.R. 12, 1907 J.R. 29, 1907 c. 661, vote Nov. 1908; 1925 J.R. 62, 1927 J.R. 13, vote April 1927; 1939 J.R. 88, 1941 J.R. 18, vote April 1941; 1959 J.R. 78, 1961 J.R. 13, vote April 1961; 1971 J.R. 39, 1973 J.R. 29, vote April 1974]

Since all taxpayers within a vocational school district will be equally taxed, this provision is not violated by 38.155, Stats. 1967. West Milwaukee v. Area Bd. Vocational, T. & A. Ed. 51 W (2d) 356, 187 NW (2d) 387.

See note to 70.32, citing State ex rel. Hensel v. Town of Wilson, 55 W (2d) 101, 197 NW (2d) 794.

The fact that land purchased for industrial development under 66.521, Stats. 1969, and leased to a private person is not subject to a tax lien if taxes are not paid does not violate the uniformity provision. State ex rel. Hammermill Paper Co. v. La Plante, 58 W (2d) 32, 205 NW (2d) 784.

The Housing Authority Act, in granting tax exemption to bonds, does not violate this section. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 W (2d) 391, 208 NW (2d) 780.

A law requiring reduction in rent due to property tax relief does not violate the uniformity clause since it is not a tax law. State ex rel. Bldg. Owners v. Adamany, 64 W (2d) 280, 219 NW (2d) 274.

Denial of equal protection claimed by the taxpayer, by reason of the exclusion from the "occasional sale" exemption of sellers holding permits was properly held by the trial court to be without merit. Ramrod, Inc. v. Dept. of Revenue, 64 W (2d) 499, 219 NW (2d) 604.

The income and property tax exemptions provided in the Solid Waste Recycling Authority Act bear a reasonable relation to a legitimate end of governmental action and therefore do not violate the Wisconsin Constitution, since the exemptions allow for reduction in user charges and in the cost of capital needs, thereby benefiting the state's citizens by promoting use of the Authority's facilities. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 W (2d) 464, 235 NW (2d) 648.

Negative-aid provisions of school district financing, as mandated by 121.07 and 121.08, Stats. (1973), are violative of the rule of uniform taxation. Buse v. Smith, 74 W (2d) 550, 247 NW (2d) 141.

See note to 70.995, citing State ex rel. Ft. How. Paper v. Lake Dist. Bd. 82 W (2d) 491, 263 NW (2d) 178.

Improvements tax relief provisions of 79.24 and 79.25, 1977 stats., are unconstitutional as violative of uniformity clause. State ex rel. La Follette v. Torphy, 85 W (2d) 94, 270 NW (2d) 187 (1978).

Tax exemption with reasonable, though remote, relation to legitimate government purpose was permissible. Madison General Hospital Asso. v. Madison, 92 W (2d) 125, 284 NW (2d) 603 (1979).

Tax Increment Law (66.46) does not violate uniformity rule. Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity House v. Menomonie, 93 W (2d) 392, 288 NW (2d) 85 (1980).

Contract by which landowner agreed to petition for annexation to city, not to develop land and to grant water rights to city in exchange for reimbursement of all property taxes violated uniformity rule. Cornwell v. City of Stevens Point, 159 W (2d) 136, 464 NW (2d) 33 (Ct. App. 1990).

Partial exemption from property taxation, proposed for land conveyed to The National Audubon Society, Inc., probably is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Const., and under the rule of uniformity. 61 Atty. Gen. 173.

Competitive bidding for the issuance of a liquor license violates this section. 61 Atty. Gen. 180.

A bill providing for a tax on all known commercially feasible low-grade iron ore reserve deposits in Wisconsin, would appear to violate the uniformity of taxation provisions of sec. 1. 63 Atty. Gen. 3.

Section 70.325 violates this section. 77 Atty. Gen. 128.

A law providing that improvements to real property would be assessed as of the date of completion of the improvements would be unconstitutional. OAG 15-93.

VIII,2 Appropriations; limitation. Section 2. [As amended Nov. 1877] No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation by law. No appropriation shall be made for the payment of any claim against the state except claims of the United States and judgments, unless filed within six years after the claim accrued. [1876 J.R. 7, 1877 J.R. 4, 1877 c. 158, vote Nov. 1877]

Funds may not be used to construct a project that has not been provided for in either the long-range building program or specifically described in the session laws. 61 Atty. Gen. 298.

The Wis. constitution does not preclude grants of state money to private parties for the purpose of affording disaster relief under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974; an appropriation by the legislature is required, however, to provide the state funding contemplated by the Act. Federal advances under the Act are limited by Art. VIII, sec. 6. 64 Atty. Gen. 39.

VIII,3 Credit of state. Section 3. [As amended April 1975] Except as provided in s. 7 (2) (a), the credit of the state shall never be given, or loaned, in aid of any individual, association or corporation. [1973 J.R. 38, 1975 J.R. 3, vote April 1975]

See note to Art. VIII, sec. 10, citing 74 Atty. Gen. 25.

VIII,4 Contracting state debts. Section 4. The state shall never contract any public debt except in the cases and manner herein provided.

The Housing Authority Act does not create a state debt even though it calls for legislative appropriations in future years to service payment of notes and bonds. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 W (2d) 391, 208 NW (2d) 780.

The Authority's power to issue notes and bonds does not constitute the creation of a state debt or a pledge of the state's credit in violation of art. VIII, since the act specifically prohibits the Authority from incurring state debt or pledging state credit, and the provision of the act recognizing a moral obligation on the part of the legislature to make up deficits does not create an obligation legally enforceable against the state. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 W (2d) 464, 235 NW (2d) 648.

Because operating notes are to be paid from money in process of collection, notes are not public debt. State ex rel. La Follette v. Stitt, 114 W (2d) 358, 338 NW (2d) 684 (1983).

An agreement to pay rent under a long-term lease would amount to contracting a debt unless the lease is made subject to the availability of future funds. 60 Atty. Gen. 408.

Borrowing money from federal government to replenish Wisconsin's unemployment compensation fund does not contravene either art. VIII, sec. 3 or 4. 71 Atty. Gen. 95.

VIII,5 Annual tax levy to equal expenses. Section 5. The legislature shall provide for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the state for each year; and whenever the expenses of any year shall exceed the income, the legislature shall provide for levying a tax for the ensuing year, sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year.

Deficit reported in financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles would not violate this section. 74 Atty. Gen. 202.

VIII,6 Public debt for extraordinary expense; taxation. Section 6. For the purpose of defraying extraordinary expenditures the state may contract public debts (but such debts shall never in the aggregate exceed one hundred thousand dollars). Every such debt shall be authorized by law, for some purpose or purposes to be distinctly specified therein; and the vote of a majority of all the members elected to each house, to be taken by yeas and nays, shall be necessary to the passage of such law; and every such law shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest of such debt and the principal within five years from the passage of such law, and shall specially appropriate the proceeds of such taxes to the payment of such principal and interest; and such appropriation shall not be repealed, nor the taxes be postponed or diminished, until the principal and interest of such debt shall have been wholly paid.

See note to Art. VIII, sec. 2, citing 64 Atty. Gen. 39.

VIII,7 Public debt for public defense; bonding for public purposes. Section 7. [As amended April 1969, April 1975 and April 1992]

VIII,7(1) (1) The legislature may also borrow money to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or defend the state in time of war; but the money thus raised shall be applied exclusively to the object for which the loan was authorized, or to the repayment of the debt thereby created.

VIII,7(2) (2) Any other provision of this constitution to the contrary notwithstanding:

VIII,7(2)(a) (a) The state may contract public debt and pledges to the payment thereof its full faith, credit and taxing power:

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Wisconsin Constitution updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Published Oct. 3, 2014. Click for the Coverage of Annotations for the Annotated Constitution. Report errors at (608) 266-3561, FAX 264-6948.