Governor Evers Files Lawsuit Alleging Republican-led Legislature Violated Wisconsin Constitution’s ‘Separation of Powers’

Governor Tony Evers filed a lawsuit against Republican state lawmakers Tuesday, claiming their decisions to block pay raises for employees of the Universities of Wisconsin, conservation projects and updates to the state’s commercial building standards are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul on behalf of Evers, along with a host of state agencies and boards, also focuses on GOP actions to block 27 conservation projects funded through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Evers’ lawsuit also argues Republicans overstepped their authority on administrative rules related to commercial building standards and ethics standards for social workers and counselors.

The case claims GOP lawmakers are violating the Wisconsin Constitution’s “well-defined separation of powers” by creating more and more “legislative vetoes” made by committees made up of a handful of legislators.

Evers’ administration is petitioning the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case as an original action, effectively asking the court’s new liberal majority to bypass lower courts.

In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester accused Evers and Kaul of “an attempt to eliminate” raises given to all state employees by the Legislature.  “In a time of unprecedented inflation brought on by reckless Democrat spending, we think it is abhorrent that the Governor would try and take away lawfully approved money for hardworking state employees,” Vos said.

State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said the Senate would defend the duties of the Legislature and called Evers’ lawsuit “frivolous.”

“The Governor is working to diminish the the voice of Wisconsinites by limiting the authority of the legislature and unduly strengthening his own administration,” LeMahieu said.