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Conservative Wisconsin Group To Expand Focus Nationally

Group Aims To Resist What It Calls Federal Government Overreach

Wisconsin state Capitol
Laura Zimmerman/WPR

A conservative group that’s defended Republican-backed laws and causes in Wisconsin court rooms wants expand its reach nationally.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty announced the creation of the Center for Competitive Federalism, which will file and support lawsuits challenging what it believes to be federal government overreach.

Mario Loyola, who will serve as director of the new center, said it will engage in “strategic litigation” and collaborate with state lawmakers by issuing policy papers and analyses.

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Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said he plans to work with the center to introduce bills during the next legislative session.

“A lot of the problems that we want to solve, we run into this brick wall,” Kooyenga said. “The federal government has told us you do not have the flexibility in order to go to the table with solutions that you feel, and your constituents feel, may better serve your constituents.”

State Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, called federal government overreach “shocking.”

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has been involved in many of the state’s most high-profile lawsuits in recent years, including cases brought by unions to block Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law, and a lawsuit to end a John Doe investigation into the governor’s 2012 recall campaign. The group sided with the governor in both cases.

The leader of one liberal advocacy group said the new center was created to champion the governor’s social, economic and political agenda.

“Walker has been a complete and total failure as governor in every single way possible and all the lawsuits and propaganda in the world inside or outside of Wisconsin isn’t going to change that,” said Scot Ross, executive director of liberal group One Wisconsin Now.

The Center for Competitive Federalism has received $800,000 in funding from the conservative Bradley Foundation. The foundation also awarded $300,000 to the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, which will support the new center’s efforts.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story featuring Associated Press content has bee updated with original reporting.