As I have shamelessly promoted here earlier, this Friday we are holding a conference on the past and future term of the Wisconsin Supreme Court at Marquette University Law School. If you are a lawyer in need of CLE or some one interested in the court or Wisconsin constitution, please come. I am in awe of the great lawyers who have agreed to participate.
This week I'll post a little on the state constitution, but will also offer some pertinent musical selections. (Music about the Wisconsin Constitution? Some would shrink from the challenge. Not me.)
Our state's constitution has an oft amended internal improvements clause, restricting the ability of the state to "contract any debt for works of internal improvement, or be a party in carrying on such works." There are lots of qualifications and judicially approved "work arounds" of this provision and, for reasons that my students can recite, I don't think it has much meaning today. But its genesis was in concern over the way that other states (as of the mid 19th century when our constitution was adopted) had gotten into financial difficulty over what we would call public works projects. One oft cited example was New York's construction of the Erie Canal. Bruce Springsteen has recently done a fantastic version of Thomas Allen's 1905 composition: