The “lame duck” legislation may have been churlish, politically tone deaf, and inimical to the general welfare (it wasn’t) but the question before the court was simply: was it legal?
My friendly comrade John Nichols hopes his readers have a short memory.
Always in the service of his statist ideology, The Capital Times associate editor lambastes the WI Supreme Court AND the state legislature for a decision he does not like in Sunday’s paper (06-23-19).
“A lawless court OKs legislative lawbreaking.”
Writes Comrade Nichols:
When the partisan majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the political chicanery of Republican legislators, no one was surprised. Sadly, it was to be expected that the four justices who serve as rubber stamps for the right wing of the state Republican Party (and its major donors) would refuse to overturn “lame-duck” laws.
Of course, it could be said that the partisan minority on the court served as rubber stamps for the left wing of the Democrat(ic) party — and its major donors!
Nichols is in a dither because the Legislature — meeting after the 2018 election in which Democrat Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker — passed legislation curbing the new governor’s powers. (Among other things: to prevent the new governor from rescinding Medicaid work requirements without legislative approval and to withdraw Wisconsin from multi-state lawsuit against ObamaCare. The legislature also ratified 82 last-minute Walker appointments.)
Democrats descended on the capitol to make noise but it was short-lived and anemic, a shadow of the Act 10 intifada. So, a number of groups brought suit, including (lamentably) the once-nonpartisan League of [Liberal] Women Voters. Of course, they won in Dane County (Wisconsin’s version of the federal system’s 9th circuit) but lost when the high court affirmed the legality of the legislature’s action by a 4-3 vote Friday (06-21-19). Hence Nichols’ alliterative tantrum
Legislature is always in session
It may well be that John’s readers suffer short-term memories. He can only hope because just two months ago one of those right-wing Republican legislators explained the law about as well as it can be explained. Oh wait a minute!!! Tom Loftus is no Republican and is hardly “right wing” but the former Democratic speaker of the state Assembly and the Democratic nominee for governor in 1990. How embarrassing!
There is, in reality, no such thing as a “special session,” Loftus wrote, on April 26 for the Capital Times!:
[T]he legislature is always in session. The reality of one continuous two-year session was formally acknowledged by a constitutional amendment ratified in April 1968: “Shall Article IV, Section 11 of the Constitution be amended to permit the Legislature to meet in regular session oftener than once in two years?” The amendment was ratified in a 670,757 to 267,997 vote. …
The Legislature, under the Constitution, governs itself — setting its own rules of organization, procedures and calendar. So an extraordinary session is simply a floor period added to the dates adopted at the beginning of the two-year session, but, like a special session, it is restricted in subject matter.
Wisconsin’s Legislature does not adjourn sine die — meaning “without a day” to reconvene — until minutes before members of a new Legislature are sworn in.
Fred Risser, lawless legislative law-breaker
Think about it, Loftus argued. Could a governor time his veto when the legislature is out of session, “thus thwarting the Legislature’s power under the Constitution to consider an override?”
Indeed, the legislature met after its usual floor period in 1980, 1987 and 1988 to consider vetoes. Oh, and again on July 17, 2012, to elect Fred Risser as Senate president following the recall elections.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Who are the partisans on the court? We nominate Justices Rebecca Dallet, Ann Walsh Bradley and Shirley Abrahamson.
For further study: By signing Justice Dallet’s dissenting opinion, but adding no comment of her own, Abrahamson was spared the task of explaining the apparent illegitimacy — in her view — of extraordinary sessions held on many occasions during the last four decades. — RightWisconsin.