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Complicated Legal Fight Over Evers’ Powers Takes More Twists

Madison Attorney Files Petition Asking Judge To Block Walker From Enforcing New Law

Scales Of Justice
Cal Injury Lawyer (CC-BY)

A complicated legal battle between Gov. Scott Walker and state Superintendent Tony Evers has taken even more twists.

Madison attorney Lester Pines, who supports Evers, filed a petition late Thursday to a Dane County court judge asking to block Walker from interfering with Evers’ power to enact state agency rules at the state Department of Public Instruction which he runs.

Last week, conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked the state Supreme Court to take a case it’s bringing alleging Evers is violating a state law Walker signed giving him oversight of all rule-making, including at DPI.

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Evers wants to fight that in court, but Walker blocked him from retaining his own attorney at DPI.

Pines says three courts have already ruled Evers is an independent office, and Walker and other conservatives can’t change that.

“They are insisting that the superintendent do what the Supreme Court has said is unconstitutional for them to insist that he do.”

Pines also said it’s not Walker’s call to decide who Evers’ attorney is.

“Just because the governor’s party controls the Legislature and the attorney general’s office and because the governor believes he controls the Wisconsin Supreme Court, that doesn’t mean he’s a little dictator.”

Later on Friday, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel sent Evers a letter, telling him he won’t stop Evers from hiring a personal attorney to represent himself in the lawsuit challenging his office’s powers.

But Schimel told Evers the state Department of Justice will continue to defend DPI in the lawsuit.

DPI shot back with a letter of its own, saying that still violated the basic rules of professional conduct for lawyers.

Evers objected to Walker forcing him to be represented by Schimel in the lawsuit filed by WILL.

That’s because Schimel agrees with WILL’s position that Evers is in violation of state law by refusing to give rule-making oversight powers to the governor.

Evers is one of several Democrats running for governor against Walker.

Walker has said there’d be no conflict if Evers would follow the law.

The Supreme Court hasn’t said whether it will take the case.

Last year, the court ruled that the governor doesn’t have oversight powers over the superintendent.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.