WisBar News: Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear issues related to controversial budget repair bill:

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  • WisBar News
    June
    03
    2011

    Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear issues related to controversial budget repair bill

    Joe Forward
    Legal Writer

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    June 3, 2011 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral argument June 6 on issues stemming from Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial Budget Repair Bill (2011 Wisconsin Act 10), which was originally halted in March when Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order enjoining its publication.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear issues in case that halted budget repair bill

    Issues concerning the the budget repair bill, the Open Meetings Law, and the separation of powers doctrine lie in wait as Wisconsin Supreme Court takes first step.

    By org jforward wisbar Joe Forward, Legal Writer, State Bar of Wisconsin

    Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear 
issues in case that halted 
budget repair bill June 3, 2011 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral argument June 6 on issues stemming from Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial Budget Repair Bill (2011 Wisconsin Act 10), which was originally halted in March when Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order enjoining its publication.

    In a May 26 decision and final order in State v. Fitzgerald, No. 11CV1244, Sumi permanently voided Wis. Act 10, declaring Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws in passing it back on March 9 during a meeting of the Joint Committee of Conference.

    In that final order, Judge Sumi concluded – among other conclusions – that Wis. Stat. section 19.97(3) explicitly authorizes a circuit court to “nullify action taken in violation of the Open Meetings Law.”

    Section 19.97(3) states, in part, that “[a]ny action taken at a meeting of a governmental body held in violation of this subchapter [Open Meetings of Governmental Bodies] is voidable, upon action brought by the attorney general or the district attorney of the county wherein the violation occurred.”

    Now the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral argument on various issues, including whether it can exercise appellate power to review Sumi’s final order absent the filing of an appeal, and the impact of Sumi’s final order on the pending appeal challenging the temporary restraining order (TRO).

    The District IV Wisconsin Court of Appeals in March certified an appeal of the TRO (a non-final order) to the supreme court. But certification is still pending, meaning the supreme court has not yet made a decision on whether to hear the merits of the case.

    The court will also hear oral argument on a petition for supervisory writ, which was filed by Michael Huebsch, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Under Wis. Stat. section 809.71, a person may request the supreme court to exercise its supervisory jurisdiction.

    The petition, which presents many of the issues presented in State v. Fitzgerald, seeks to expedite a supreme court decision on those issues by invoking the court’s supervisory jurisdiction. Granting the petition would allow the petitioners to bypass lower courts.

    Huebsch argues that the Dane County Circuit Court did not have authority to invalidate an act of the Legislature “on the basis of an alleged failure to follow a rule of legislative procedure” and may not “enjoin the legislative process to prevent a legislative act from becoming law.”

    “When a court takes such actions it violates fundamental principles of separation of powers and does serious and irreparable harm to our constitutional system of government,” Huebsch’s attorney’s argued in the petition. “Such actions by the Circuit Court … must be squarely rejected.”

    Huebsch said a swift decision is important to allow state and local branches of government to “conduct their business without improper interference from the judicial branch.” The petition drew response briefs from six parties, including Sen. Mark Miller (D), Rep. Peter Barca (D), and Judge Sumi, who reiterates some of the arguments set forth in her final order in State v. Fitzgerald and argues the petition should be dismissed because Huebsch is not a party to the underlying action.

    Related articles

    Secretary asks supreme court to withdraw or dismiss petition relating to budget repair bill WisBar, April 7

    Appeals court asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide budget repair bill issuesWisBar, March 24

    Wisconsin Department of Justice files petition in case halting publication of budget repair bill WisBar, March 21