As you probably know by now, the status of the publication/legality of the new collective bargaining law, aka Wisconsin Act 10, remains, like so many things since February 11th, in limbo. Now it’s true that I’m no scholar of constitutional law, much less the enforceable actualities inherent in that august screed called the website of the Legislative Reference Bureau, but here’s what’s at play, in a nutshell: More or less on behalf of Minority Leader of the State Assembly, Peter Barca, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is suing Majority Leader of the State Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald et al. over violating the open meetings law. Related to this is Secretary of State, Doug La Follette, who is responsible for setting the date for all Wisconsin laws to be published in the state newspaper, The Wisconsin State Journal, who delayed this last step until March 25, 2011. Before that, however, Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order blocking the bill from being published until further testimony regarding the open meetings law could be heard. So far, so good? OK, here’s where the Shakespearean elements come in from the wings: citing immunity while the State Legislature is in session, none of the Republicans need appear at court. La Follette, being a state employee, was represented by the Department of Justice, as is standard operating procedure — in this case Maria Lazar, assistant Attorney General who (along with Steven Means) you might remember from such legalese classics as “Why Our Capitol Needs to Be Closed Off to the Public” and “What Do You Mean the DOA Favors Fox News?” only a few weeks ago. But hang on for just a second, you’re probably thinking, didn’t the DOJ, most notably Attorney General JB Van Hollen himself, say that Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi lacked the authority to weigh in on this legislative matter? (More on this elsewhere.) So how can the Sec. of State, who disagrees with the misbegotten bastard bill-law and is on record as not allowing it to be published while there remains in effect a temporary restraining order, be represented in court by the DOJ who (a) believes the matter is established law by fiat of having been published on the LRB’s website and (b) doesn’t really think the Judge has the jurisdiction to opine on this in the first place? Great questions all around! Hence the emphasized “was represented” (above) because after much frustration and apparent conflict of interest, Judge Sumi ordered that he be represented by his own attorney, not the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry »
Tag Archives: Mike Huebsch
Such a classic showdown of iconoclastic contrasts could not have been better staged by Capra himself. On the right the attorneys for the Department of Administration, i.e., the State of Wisconsin, i.e., Scott Walker, led by Assistant Attorney General Steven Means glossy slick in pinstripes flanked on both sides by his lady attorney girl Fridays sutured in skirt suits, all corporate polish, hairspray-metallic. On the left, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in a denim jacket and coffee-stained slacks, her legal assistant next to her in a corduroy jacket, disheveled hair, his shirt unkemptly tucked as he leaned back in his chair like a recliner, hands folded behind his head. The issue at stake: an injunction filed on behalf of the people of Wisconsin against the Department of Administration to rescind forthwith the latter’s continually changing, incrementally draconian policies restricting access to the state Capitol building.