Wisconsin Republicans stunned the nation today when they published Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bill in seeming violation of a restraining order. The legislation was enjoined from publishing by a judge who ruled that Republicans violated the Open Meeting law when passing it. By publishing their anti-union legislation and turning it into law, Scott Walker and the Republicans may have killed the bill.
Republicans skirted the judge’s order today by having the legislation published by an agency other than the specifically enjoined Secretary of State, claiming that the constitution does not specify which body must publish a law, while Democrats claim that the law must be published by the SOS.
Which body may or must publish the law appears a moot point, given the judge’s specific ruling, wherein it is clear that she is enjoining and restraining the bill in a much broader context than merely the SOS:
The Wisconsin State Journal reported:
An order signed March 18 by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi bars La Follette from publishing the bill. But as she verbally issued her decision at the end of a hearing the same day, the scope of her order was broader.
“I do, therefore, restrain and enjoin the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10,” Sumi said, according to a transcript. “The next step in implementation of that law would be the publication of that law by the secretary of state. He is restrained and enjoined from such publication until further order of this court.”
By attempting to go around the judge’s order, the Republicans violate the spirit of her ruling if not the letter of it. In any case, this won’t be the Wisconsin Republicans first run at violating the law in order to push their anti-union measure through.
It’s obvious from recent events, including the Wisconsin Republicans attempting to intimidate a Professor who wrote a critical article about their actions for the New York Times by demanding his emails through the Wisconsin Open Records law, that the Republicans are desperate. Apparently they are so desperate that they are no longer trying to hide their agenda under the guise of a budget issue, let alone pretend what they are doing is legal.
But what the Wisconsin Republicans have really done by publishing the anti-union bill is kill their own legislation. By publishing the bill, the Republicans have made it easier to fight in court, because it is now law and hence, can now be permanently overturned.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported:
By doing so, Pines said, the bureau made moot the actions currently before the state Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals. He said that would actually simplify the case that District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has to make on the alleged open meetings violation by a legislative conference committee, now that he doesn’t have to worry about whether a judge has the authority to stop legislation before it takes effect.
“I suspect that if Judge Sumi was willing to take up a (temporary restraining order) against publication I suspect she’d do the same thing on enforcement (of the new law),” Pines said.
Pines said it also opens up legal channels for other groups who have been waiting to challenge the law but had to wait until it was enacted, like Madison Teachers Inc., which plans to file its own lawsuit on Monday. He said it has not been decided whether MTI will seek a restraining order or injunction barring enforcement of the law.
“This is going to unleash a tsunami of litigation,” Pines said.
The irony here is that they didn’t kill their bill by passing it without the necessary quorum, violating state Open Meeting laws or publishing it in violation of a judge’s order; they killed it with their own hubris. Now that it’s published, it is much easier to have it stopped permanently. It can and will be fought on all of the above grounds as well as countless others — amounting to a “tsunami of litigation” against the anti-union law.
By publishing this bill, Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans remind Americans about the fatal flaw of the modern day Republican Party: It and its leaders lack judgment. The publishing of this bill which was now not only passed while violating state law but now published in violation of a court order smells vaguely but sickeningly of George W Bush’s arrogant invasion of a sovereign nation. Just as Bush refused to wait for the UN, Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans could not allow the process to play out properly. Instead, they went all rogue cowboy and reminded us why we swore we’d never vote Republican again.
Republicans are great dictators, but they are terrible chess players. Wisconsinites will want to be sure to vote for their state Supreme Court justice on April 5. After all, dictators get into office when people stay home from the voting booth.