If Wisconsin conservatives needed a reminder of the importance of the courts, they received it Thursday when a Dane County judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the laws passed by the Republican legislature last December in an extraordinary session.
“Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess brushed aside GOP concerns that the move would leave thousands of statutes passed in so-called extraordinary sessions susceptible to challenge,” according to the Associated Press. “Republican legislative leaders vowed to appeal.”
As the MacIver Institute reported Wednesday, Niess’ decision places at risk hundreds of laws that have been passed in extraordinary sessions when both parties have been in control of the legislature. An extraordinary session is when the legislature has a meeting that is previously unscheduled.
Currently at stake in the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters are laws passed after last November’s election that limited the powers of the Wisconsin Attorney General and Governor Tony Evers as well as tightened voter ID laws and gave the legislature authority to join court cases.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke took to Twitter to criticize the ruling.
“It truly is March Madness…disappointed, but not surprised that yet another Dane County judge has issued a partisan political ruling that will inevitably be overturned by a higher court,” Steineke posted.
Rick Esenberg, President of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said Niess’ ruling is unlikely to stand.
“Today’s decision is an extraordinary intrusion by the courts into the legislative process through a cramped reading of the Constitution,” Esenberg said in a statement Thursday. “It’s inconsistent with long standing practice and could throw the validity of numerous laws into question. It’s unlikely to survive.”
Despite the likelihood of Niess’ decision being overturned on appeal, Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul wasted no time in taking advantage. Following the temporary injuction by Niess, the Wisconsin Department of Justice moved to withdraw the State of Wisconsin from Texas v. United States, the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
“Today, we are seeking to end the State of Wisconsin’s involvement in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,” said Kaul in a statement Thursday.
Dane County judges have a history of stopping laws supported by Republicans, on everything from Voter ID to Act 10, only to be overturned on appeal.