Wisconsin GOP Moves to Reinstate Lame-Duck Laws

Opponents of an extraordinary session bill submitted by Wisconsin Republican legislators gather for a rally outside the state capitol in Madison on Dec. 3, 2018. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

(CN) – Wasting no time, a coalition of Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature asked a state appeals court Friday to immediately put back into place laws blocked Thursday that were passed during a lame-duck session and aimed at limiting the powers of the new Democratic governor and attorney general.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess’ issued a temporary injunction against the controversial lame-duck laws that restrained the powers of Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. The judge also blocked 82 appointments that were made by former Republican Governor Scott Walker, all of which passed during an all-night extraordinary floor session called by GOP legislators in December.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during a Feb. 23, 2019, interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

In the first move of their appeals process, the Legislature and its counsel asked the District 3 Court of Appeals in Wausau for an emergency motion to stay Judge Niess’ injunction while they fight the ruling.

Misha Tseytlin, the Legislature’s counsel with the Chicago branch of nationwide firm Troutman Sanders, wrote that Niess’ injunction will “cause confusion about the lawful status of four decades of law adopted using the same procedure, from the two-strike laws for child sex predators, to the right-to-work law, to laws protecting against prenatal substance abuse, to the Milwaukee Bucks arena, to more than 3,000 pages of other laws.”

“Given the chaos that this decision is engendering,” Tseytlin wrote, the Republican-controlled Legislature requested an administrative stay of the injunction by the end of the day Friday, as well as a stay pending the entirety of the appeal no later than March 29.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve immediate assurance that there is no threat to these laws’ validity from the circuit court’s meritless theory,” the motion states.  

Tseytlin also stressed the need for the emergency stay because Judge Niess’ order comes just before a nonpartisan Wisconsin Supreme Court election, which is to be held on April 2.

Attorney General Kaul also acted quickly after Judge Niess’ order on Thursday by filing a motion to withdraw Wisconsin from a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The move seeks to fulfill a campaign promise made by the attorney general and Governor Evers that they did not have the authority to make good on because of the lame-duck laws.

No decision has been issued on Kaul’s motion.

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