Wisconsin GOP: Above the Law?

You might remember that a judge in the People’s Republic of Wisconsin [update: to be known henceforth as Fitzwalkerstan] last week issued a temporary restraining order that stopped the publication of the state’s new union-busting law. This was to keep the law from going into effect, per Wisconsin state law, until a suit challenging the law is decided.

Yesterday the text of the law was published on a website of the Legislative Reference Bureau, which provides research and drafting services for the state legislature. The head of this bureau, Stephen Miller, said that this publication did not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But Wisconsin Republican are saying, aha! The law was published! It can go into effect now.

It appears Miller was maneuvered into publishing the bill by state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Fitzgerald and Miller met Friday. Miller said Fitzgerald asked him to publish the law and, after reading the statutes, Miller agreed that he could do so. He said he had never published a law without being given a date by the secretary of state during his 12 years of running the reference bureau.

After the restraining order was issued March 18, La Follette sent a letter that same day to the reference bureau rescinding earlier instructions to publish the bill Friday. “I further instruct you to remove all reference to March 25, 2011, as the publication date and not to proceed with publication until I contact you with a new publication date,” his letter said.

The Republicans’ argument, as I understand it, is that the court order barred the Wisconsin Secretary of State from publishing the law, which is usually done in a newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. However, the court order didn’t say the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau couldn’t publish it. And the website publication meets the state’s public notice requirements for putting a law into effect, they say.

Miller himself says the publication was only an “administrative step,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat, says he doesn’t think the website publication satisfies the legal requirements for publishing, and the law is not in effect. But Scott Fitzgerald says it is too in effect, nyah nyah nyah.

I’m neither a lawyer nor an expert on Wisconsin state law. However, since the restraining order was broadly worded and clearly intended to stop the law from going into effect while it was being challenged in court, it is not unreasonable to assume that Fitzgerald’s maneuver does not satisfy the publishing requirement. But the lawyers and judges will have to duke this one out.

It’s fascinating to me that the Wisconsin Republicans aren’t even trying to not look like the old Soviet Politburo now. They’re so all-fired eager to bust unions and punish their opponents they can’t wait a few weeks for the courts to decide the pending suit.

16 thoughts on “Wisconsin GOP: Above the Law?

  1. Please don’t lump Soviet Politburo members with Republicans. Many of them were intelligent men and women with fine intellects and good intentions. They got caught up in a bad system, but were trying to make it better.
    Here, we had a good system that needed some tweaking on rights, but Republicans around the country seem determined not to bring the patient back to health, or even to save the patient, but to kill it as soon as possible.

    These Republicans remind me more of vicious, intellectually and morally bankrupt children, determined to have their way.
    If you told them to stop snacking and go to bed at 10, and at 10:30 they’re still watching TV and chewing on candy bars, and you ask them why, they’ll say, “Oh, well you didn’t specify pm, so we thought you meant 10am!”

    I hope this really pisses of the Court, who slap that little Walker child around a few times to remind him he was elected Governor, not crowned Emperor, or designated as the Dictator.
    Sadly, God knows what any court will do since we don’t know how many conservative idealogues are on any bench, not just nationwide, but within the individual states.

  2. Fitzgerald should be cited for contempt of court. He thinks he’s clever by flirting with little political maneuvers that circumvent a court order. A couple of days in the slammer might help him to get his thinking right and stop aggravating Wisconsin’s judicial process.

  3. Gulag: it get more interesting. The judge was a Dane County judge, which is in Madison but also the university. Liberal judge, though purported to be a pretty even handed state judge. The bill had been kicked to the Supreme Court for final ruling; but of course we have a election for the Supreme Court coming up a week from Tuesday. The court has seven on it and as of now, four are conservative. One of the judges up is a highly conservative, and partisan, judge names Prossor (er?) who is on record of calling the Chief Justice, who is a liberal, a bitch. He does not deny that fact but claims that he was forced into it, in the same way the wife beaters are forced into beating their wives. He is also accused of basically giving some pedophile priests a pass when he was a lower court judge. As Maha wrote about before, a UW professor started a blog and had as his first blog post the connection between the similar legislation in republican controlled states and their drastic legislation, of which the Republican party filed a Freedom of Information Act against him to get his ‘official’ state emails. And now we have the union killing bill becoming law/ not becoming law. It would seem that the State Repugs fired up the old HP photosmart printer, printed it and called it good. They just cannot stop themselves from being complete Douchbags, even when it helps themselves. A little more patience and reason with these guys could really help themselves out, but luckily for the good guys, they have neither of those. We had the big ‘final’ rally in Madison two weeks ago and I was afraid there would be a loss of momentum as we try to get the recalls done, not to worry, we’ve got Scooter in charge. Good news is we have enough signatures for one of the recalls already, and two others are very close. Can you say minority leader Scot Fitzegerald?

  4. buckeyblue,
    Thanks for the wrap-up.
    I knew about the judge calling the Chief Justice, a woman, a bitch. Nice mouth on that jurist.
    And continues thanks for your efforts up in that state, and all of the people beside you. I hope you get enough to recall these assholes. And then the Governor next year.

  5. Arrests need to be made. If you or I were in contempt of court, this would certainly be a possibility. Walker needs to be made to really feel the consequences of his continued, unrepentant anti-social behavior.

  6. Of course, they’ll pull out the old “rule of law and not of men” chestnut without a hint of shame the next time is seems to fit one of their talking points, along with “support the President” and “free marketplace of ideas” (that one is particularly amusing.).

    At least we’re seeing the kind of talent it takes to be a successful conservative politician. It’s a lot like the talent that it takes to be successful at organized crime.

  7. I half wonder if this isn’t done on purpose to incite negative reactions and then claim the union thugs are out of control. The minority leader in the Assembly, Peter Barca, was very magnanimous with all of this essentially saying that the courts would have to figure it out. I believe they’re clearly in contempt of the order, but it would play right into their hands if they spend any time in jail. Don’t give them what they want. The judge should simply say you’re in contempt and the bill is not currently law.

  8. Way OT – but Bob Herbert is also leaving the NY Times.
    So, that’s Frank Rich and Bob Herbert gone in less than two weeks.
    I want to cry…

    Apparently, Joe Nocera, the business writer is taking the place of one of them. I guess he’s replacing Rich. I’ve been reading him on and off for years. From what I remember, I like a lot of his stuff, but I don’t read the business section as often as I once did when I bought the paper every day. Now I skim online, and with the coming paywall, that may stop soon, too.

    Now I wonder who’ll replace Herbert, since I can hear the right screaming for balance?
    Erick Erickson?
    Michelle Malkin?
    Ann Coulter?

    And here’s today’s Herbert’s column, his last:

    Please read it, it’s really great.

  9. Buckyblue – Thank you for the update. For strategic reasons, all the recall committees are keeping the cards close to the vest. At least as far as news releases go. The major networks are distracted for good reasons – Wisconsin is off the radar until the petitions are finally submitted. And recall elections are scheduled. 🙂

    The polls seem to indicate that apathy is not a problem. From what i read…Probably six of the eight republicans are vulnerable. Two are in safe districts. Specific numbers are not out, but there SEEMS to be less momentum in the GOP efforts to recall the democrats. But I’m in Florida.

    IMO, the importance of what’s happening in WI can not be overstated. The powers behind the GOP have a two-pronged strategy that’s becoming apparent in hindsight. They deliberately drove moderates OUT of the republican party. They invested heavily in state campaigns and have rabid legislation ready for any state that might pass it.

    Turning back the GOP in Wisconsin has huge national implications because if conservatives get punished for being inflexible and they are rewarded for being willing to negotiate and compromise, that will break the back of rabid conservatism. Conservatism will continue as a pragmatic philosophy as well as pragmatic liberalism, which is as it should be.

  10. These Republicans remind me more of vicious, intellectually and morally bankrupt children, determined to have their way…

    I learned over the years, the hard way just how vicious and morally bankrupt these people are. Better now, than at the end of a gun barrel, when these people have completely taken over the country.

    I hope this really pisses of the Court, who slap that little Walker child around a few times to remind him he was elected Governor, not crowned Emperor, or designated as the Dictator.

    That will really be the test, whether the court can put Walker and Fitzgerald in their places. From the way buckyblue and others are writing, it looks like a dice toss at this point. I suspect the recall efforts have a decent chance at putting the Rs into minority status in a year or two, but it’s by no means certain.

    Sadly, I think only Wisconsin has a chance of foiling these extremists, I feel very sorry for the other states who, by appearances don’t seem to be so lucky. And I fear for blue states like my own California – even an incomplete success in the upper midwest will have a massive effect throughout the nation, as the Borg are certain to regroup and recalibrate their attack, learning from the mistakes they made in Wisconsin.

  11. Tough times, but the US survived a Civil War and a war with Hitler. We survived McCarthy and the HUAC. The PEOPLE–only the people; no help from Nixon/Kissinger– ended the Viet Nam War. We have more power than we imagine.

  12. Interesting you make the comparison to the Soviets. I have often thought that it was pretty obvious that the big corporations far prefer the Chinese system of economics to the American one. Look at where they all go. Obviously their goal is low pay and no regulations when it comes to air and water etc. What is the tax rate in China? Why do they sell America down the road for money. Great patriots huh?

  13. ronspir,
    Watching our American free market capitalist system in action, is like watching episodes of “Ghoul’s Gone Wild!”

    And the Conservative/Corporate way to create jobs is to make ours as low paying as China’s – and even that may be too high for them.

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