MADISON, Wis. — The state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision issued Wednesday, upheld a law allowing officials to deny welfare to people who have lived in the state less than 60 days.
"While we are not unsympathetic to the situation of individuals seeking to establish themselves in Wisconsin, we recognize that ours is not to pass judgment as to the wisdom of the Legislature," Justice Roland B. Day wrote in the majority opinion.
Day also said that a 60-day waiting period for welfare is "substantially less onerous" than a one-year waiting period the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969 declared unconstitutional in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.
Gov. Tommy G. Thompson hailed the ruling as "good news for Wisconsin taxpayers concerned about welfare migration," and said it would strengthen the state's case for federal approval of a two-tiered welfare system.
Chief Justice Nathan B. Heffernan wrote, in the dissenting opinion for the court's three-judge minority, that such a ruling was discriminatory.
Earlier this month, Thompson signed a bill that would, if the federal government approves, pay some new residents the same amount of money under the Aid to Families With Dependent Children program that they would have received in the state they left.
Wisconsin pays $517 a month in AFDC payments, while neighboring Illinois pays $367.