Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the $10 billion Foxconn factory complex on June 28, 2018 in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'A Very Dark Day for Democracy': Scott Walker Signs Wisconsin GOP's 'Legislative Coup' Into Law

"This is the kind of thing autocrats do," declared journalist Ari Berman

Jake Johnson

Completing what critics have denounced as a "legislative coup," Wisconsin's outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Friday signed into law a series of bills that will dramatically weaken the authority of the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general, enhance the power of the Republican-dominated state legislature, and significantly roll back voting rights.

"This is the kind of thing autocrats do," Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman declared on Twitter. "A very dark day for democracy in Wisconsin."

"Today, Governor Walker chose to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin. This will no doubt be his legacy," Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers said in a statement. "The people demanded a change on November 6th, and they asked us to solve problems, not pick petty, political fights. The people of Wisconsin expect more from our government than what has happened in our state over the past few weeks."

Walker's decision to sign the GOP's lame-duck power grab into law came after Wisconsinites engulfed the state capitol building to denounce the raft of legislation as an overt attempt to overturn the midterm election results.

""The GOP (and Kochs) use the state as a petri dish for terrible hard-right ideas. If this works, it'll spread elsewhere."
—Ben Wikler,

While Walker attempted to justify his decision to sign the legislation by calling protests against it "hysteria" and presenting a Venn diagram suggesting that Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers will not lose any powers, the details of the bills—compiled by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—show that Wisconsinites have called the measures a "naked power grab" for a reason.

Among other sweeping changes, the legislation would drastically roll back Evers' power to implement new rules and transfer significant power over the state's legal affairs from the attorney-general's office to the Republican legislature.

In a statement on Thursday, the One Wisconsin Institute announced that it plans to take legal action against Walker for signing a bill that restricts early voting to no more than two weeks before an election.

"This attack by Republicans in the legislature is not just unprecedented—it's undemocratic, it's unconstitutional, it's un-American," declared Scot Ross, executive director of the One Wisconsin Institute. "Scott Walker, Robin Vos, and the Republicans have targeted the voters who went to the polls in record-setting numbers by attacking the right to vote. Record-setting early voting isn't an emergency, it is democracy."

As's Ben Wikler noted as the bills were moving through the state legislature, "what happens in Wisconsin doesn't stay in Wisconsin."

"The GOP (and Kochs) use the state as a petri dish for terrible hard-right ideas," Wikler added. "If this works, it'll spread elsewhere."

As Common Dreams reported, the Wisconsin GOP's attack on democracy is being replicated by Michigan Republicans, who are moving ahead with legislation that would weaken the powers of the state's newly elected Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Despite Housing Crisis, Mississippi May Return Up to Millions in Federal Rent Aid to DC

"For them to suggest people like me aren't working? It's a slap in the face," said one woman affected by the end of the pandemic assistance program. "It's very insulting and degrading."

Brett Wilkins ·

80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

"With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they're fighting to protect and expand benefits."

Jessica Corbett ·

Rich Nations Again Accused of Vaccine Hoarding as UK OKs Moderna Omicron Booster

"While countries like the U.K. buy updated vaccines for their fourth doses, people in low- and middle-income countries are fighting today's variants with yesterday's vaccines."

Brett Wilkins ·

With Trumpian Claims of Cheating, Starbucks Demands Halt to Union Elections

"Unfortunately, it's now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jake Johnson ·

Richest Country on Earth to One of Its Poorest: We're Keeping the Money We Stole From You

A foreign affairs columnist called the move by the Biden administration a "shortsighted, morally unconscionable, and potentially calamitous decision for a country on the cusp of universal poverty."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo