Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker flipped the switch to light the state Christmas Tree in the Capitol Rotunda, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 at the Capitol in Madison, Wis. (Photo: Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

'Democracy the Early Morning Light' as Wisconsin GOP Rams Through 'Lame Duck Legislative Coup'

"Scott Walker may be on the way out of office for the first time in a quarter century, but his corrosive brand of politics lives on in his fellow Republicans."

Jake Johnson, staff writer

After hours of debate and secret negotiations that dragged on into the early hours of the morning amid a backdrop of mass protests, Wisconsin's Senate on Wednesday approved a Republican plan to strip power from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers and transfer major authority over the state's legal affairs from the incoming Democratic attorney general to the GOP-dominated legislature.

"Democracy dies in darkness... or perhaps in the early morning light," wrote The Nation's John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, after the measure passed the state Senate and headed toward an Assembly vote, the final hurdle before the legislation reaches outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker's desk. The plan is expected to easily sail through the Assembly as early as Wednesday morning, and Walker has said he will sign it.

Update: The Republican plan has passed the state Assembly.

Described by Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman as a "lame duck legislative coup," the sweeping measure would dramatically curtail Evers' power to implement new rules and require the Republican legislature—rather than the incoming Democratic attorney general—to approve any attempt to withdraw from federal lawsuits.

"This is outrageous abuse of power and should be huge national scandal."
—Ari Berman, Mother Jones

The measure also attacks voting rights by restricting early voting to no more than two weeks before an election. A similar measure passed by Wisconsin Republicans in 2016 was ruled unconstitutional on the grounds that it disproportionately harmed minority voters.

Read the full details of the GOP power grab here.

"This is outrageous abuse of power and should be huge national scandal," Berman declared.

Though Wisconsin Republicans and Walker attempted to downplay the scope and significance of their legislation, Wisconsinites saw through the GOP's rhetoric and turned out to the state capitol in force, flooding hearing rooms and rallying outside the capitol building in the freezing weather to denounce the legislation as an attempt to "undo democracy itself."

"Scott Walker may be on the way out of office for the first time in a quarter century," said One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross, "but his corrosive brand of politics lives on in his fellow Republicans."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·

94% of Americans Oppose Big Pharma's Control of Global Covid-19 Vaccine Doses: Poll

Half of U.S. adults also consider it unacceptable that pharmaceutical corporations, which monopolized dose production, have profited substantially from vaccines developed using public funding.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·