Wisconsin Supreme Court Hands Victory To Republicans In Restoring Walker Appointees

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has handed another win to Republicans in the ongoing dispute over legislation and appointments passed during last year’s lame-duck session.

The state’s high court voted 4-3 on Tuesday to restore all 82 appointees then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) made before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was sworn in on Jan. 7, The Associated Press reported.

“The 82 appointees shall immediately be allowed to perform the duties of their respective positions in the same manner as they were performing those duties,” the court said, according to AP.

The ruling will allow 15 of Walker’s appointees who Evers did not reappoint to return to their posts. This includes positions on the Public Service Commission and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Melissa Baldauff, the governor’s communications director, said in a statement to HuffPost: “We are confident that the court will ultimately rule against the Legislature’s unconstitutional attempt to override the will of the people.”

Dane County Judge Richard Niess ruled in March that the entire lame-duck session was unconstitutional because legislators had met outside of the normal legislative session to approve laws that would curb the powers of Evers, as well as those of Democrat Josh Kaul, who won the November race for attorney general. The GOP lawmakers also approved 82 appointments made by Walker.

Evers subsequently rescinded all 82 appointees but later reappointed many of them, except for 15. Several court rulings later halted then reinstated Neiss’ decision, pushing the battle to the state’s highest court. 

Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican state Senate majority leader, applauded the Supreme Court’s ruling in a statement on Facebook.

“Governor Evers’ actions targeted public servants who are dedicated to working on behalf of Wisconsin citizens,” Fitzgerald wrote on Wednesday. “I’m glad to see that the Supreme Court has ended this unnecessary constitutional crisis and enforced the return of these individuals to their rightful positions.”

The laws Republicans passed would limit the governor’s authority in a number of ways, including prohibiting him from withdrawing from lawsuits without legislative approval. That would prevent Evers from pulling Wisconsin out of a multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, as he promised to do on the campaign trail.

The laws would also require Kaul to get approval from the Republican-controlled legislature before settling lawsuits and give the legislature the power to intervene in lawsuits with its own attorneys instead of using state DOJ lawyers. Lawmakers previously had to receive judicial approval to intervene.

Numerous progressive groups have challenged the legislation in several lawsuits, leading to Niess’ ruling.

An appeals court reinstated the laws later in March. The statutes, however, remain blocked due to a county judge’s ruling in a separate lawsuit.

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