Wisconsin Supreme Court Temporarily Restores Most Lame-Duck Laws

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has temporarily restored nearly all of the laws Republicans passed in December’s lame-duck session, including one that makes it harder for Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul to leave or settle federal lawsuits.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court’s conservatives acknowledged their stay might delay the attorney general’s ability to settle cases where funds are distributed to the public.

“On the other hand … the public as a whole suffers irreparable injury of the first magnitude where a statute enacted by its elected representatives is declared unenforceable and enjoined before any appellate review can occur,” justices wrote.

The case was filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and others in organized labor. It argued the laws Republicans passed in December’s extraordinary session violated the state constitution’s separation of powers protections.

Dane County Judge Frank Remington issued a ruling in March that struck down several of the laws, including the one that limited the power of Kaul.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is also handling the appeal in the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin among other groups. That case contends the entire lame-duck session was unlawful because the Wisconsin Constitution does not explicitly allow for “extraordinary” sessions of the Legislature. The Supreme Court heard arguments in that case last month.