Wisconsin’s lame duck lawsuit-limit law to be challenged again

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s governor and attorney general are going back to court. This time, it’s to challenge a law limiting what they can do regarding lawsuits.

Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers filed a lawsuit Monday to strike down part of the 2018 law that requires the attorney general to get permission from the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee before settling or ending any lawsuits.

“The Wisconsin Department of Justice works to make things right when consumers are cheated or when our air, water, or land is polluted. The provision of the 2018 extraordinary session legislation that’s at issue in this case impedes that critical work by giving the state legislature a role in executive branch functions, in violation of the Wisconsin Constitution’s separation of powers,” Kaul said.

Republican lawmakers approved the law as part of a package during 2018’s lame duck session. Evers had won the election, but Republicans controlled the legislature and Gov. Scott Walker was still in office.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the lame duck laws after an initial lawsuit filed by the Service Employees International Union.

Kaul on Monday said the Wisconsin Supreme Court left the door open for precisely this kind of challenge.

“While the Wisconsin Supreme Court in SEIU v. Vos did not find the provision at issue unconstitutional in every potential application, the majority opinion noted, ‘We stress that this decision is limited. We express no opinion on whether individual applications or categories of applications may violate the separation of powers, or whether the legislature may have other valid institutional interests supporting application of these laws,” Kaul wrote.

Kaul and Evers’ challenge focuses exclusively on the executive branch’s power to deal with environmental and consumer-protection laws, or cases involving breach-of-contract.

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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