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Republicans Seek Emergency Stay In Lame-Duck Case

If Granted, Stay Would Reinstate Laws Passed During December's Lame-Duck Session Of Legislature

Gavel
Joe Gratz (CC)

Wisconsin Republicans have asked a state appeals court to block a Thursday ruling that overturned all of the laws and appointments passed in December’s lame-duck session of the Legislature.

GOP attorney Misha Tseytlin filed the emergency stay motion with the District 3 Court of Appeals on Friday morning. District 3 includes 35 counties in the northern half of Wisconsin, but it doesn’t include Dane County, where the case was filed.

“This indefensible injunction is already causing serious harm to our state, blocking many dozens of statutory provisions,” the motion reads. “The Circuit Court’s injunction also invalidates 82 appointments to government bodies, including to the critical Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which canceled today’s meeting just hours after this ruling.”

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Dane County Judge Richard Niess ruled against Republicans on Thursday, ordering the lame-duck laws blocked because they were passed in what’s known as an “extraordinary session” of the Legislature. Niess wrote that because the state constitution doesn’t explicitly allow for extraordinary sessions, everything passed in the December session was unlawful.

Shortly after issuing the ruling, Gov. Tony Evers directed Attorney General Josh Kaul to pull Wisconsin out of the federal lawsuit that aims to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Almost immediately, Kaul withdrew from the case.

Evers said Thursday that he wasn’t yet prepared to exercise other powers that were held by his predecessor, Gov. Scott Walker, but were taken away from him during the lame-duck session.

But Friday afternoon, Evers began rescinding scores of Walker’s appointments after Niess invalidated their confirmation votes. Evers’ spokeswoman said the 82 Republican-confirmed Walker appointments are now considered vacant.

Some of the higher profile appointees include a pair of University of Wisconsin System regents and Ellen Nowak, chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission.

The League of Women Voters case is one of several working their way through state and federal courts. Another case brought by a coalition of unions is scheduled for a hearing in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday.

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