Wisconsin residents are subject to Wisconsin state and U.S. federal laws. Federal laws apply in Wisconsin as they do across all 50 states. In addition to the U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of the U.S., federal laws include statutes that are periodically codified in the U.S. Code. Federal laws also include decisions by courts that interpret federal laws. Finally, federal laws include regulations issued by federal administrative agencies to implement federal laws. You can explore federal laws and related resources by visiting the federal law section of the Justia site.
The state of Wisconsin also has its own state laws. Wisconsin state laws include the Wisconsin Constitution, laws passed by the Wisconsin legislature and periodically codified in the Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations, and decisions by courts that interpret Wisconsin laws.
Considered a relatively conservative document, the Wisconsin Constitution is the oldest state constitution outside New England. It was ratified in 1848, when Wisconsin became a state. Divided into two sections, Article XII describes the processes for amending the Constitution. First, an amendment proposed in the legislature must be approved by a majority of each chamber of the legislature in two successive legislative sessions before it appears on a ballot. This type of amendment also must be published for three months before the election that leads to the second legislative session. Alternatively, a proposal for a constitutional convention will appear on a ballot if a majority of each chamber of the legislature votes in its favor.
The Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations contain the laws passed by the Wisconsin legislature. These laws and the provisions of the Wisconsin Constitution are often interpreted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, which is divided into four districts. Two federal district courts in Wisconsin also issue decisions that may affect Wisconsin residents. These are the Eastern and Western District Courts of Wisconsin. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals holds the authority to review decisions by federal district courts in Wisconsin. Sometimes the U.S. Supreme Court may review a case that has been appealed from the Seventh Circuit or from the Wisconsin Supreme Court.