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Judge Blocks Lame-Duck Power Grab by Wisconsin GOP

"Once again it took a court order to force Republicans to respect WI voters."

Protesters outside the Wisconsin state house protesting what they called a Republican lame-duck power grab following the 2018 elections. (Photo: Screengrab)

Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin are celebrating a ruling by a state judge on Thursday that will halt a backdoor attempt last year by the lame-duck Republicans to hamstring the incoming Democratic state government. 

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess imposed the temporary stay and injunction on a slate of laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the GOP lost their majorities and the governor's mansion in the 2018 election.

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of left-leaning groups in the state who charged the laws rushed through after the election were a direct effort by Republicans to undermine the will of the voters.

As to the Capital Times reports:

The lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and three Wisconsin voters, alleged the method by which the Legislature passed the bills — an extraordinary session — is unconstitutional, therefore rendering anything passed during the session invalid.

"Failing to enjoin the illegal actions of the Legislature would result in substantial changes to Wisconsin government, the administration of federal benefits and programs, election administration and transportation projects — all pursuant to laws that do not exist," wrote [Niess] in his ruling.

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In addition to temporarily blocking enforcement of the laws, Niess rejected requests by Republican lawmakers to dismiss the case and to stay his injunction.

"There can be no justification for enforcement of the unconstitutional legislative actions emanating from the December 2018 'Extraordinary Session' that is consistent with the rule of law," Niess wrote.

While Republican lawmakers in the state vowed to immediately appeal the ruling, progressives praised the decision and called on the GOP to give up on their failed effort to undermine Gov. Tony Evers, the Democrat elected last year.

"Once again it took a court order to force Republicans to respect WI voters. It's long past time for the GOP to end their temper tantrum over lost elections," declared Analiese Eicher, executive director of the progressive Wisconsin One. Now, she added, "It's time for them to get to work with the Governor for the people of WI."

In a statement, Gov. Evers called the ruling a victory. Despite their defeat in November, he said, the Republican-controlled "Legislature overplayed its hand by using an unlawful process to accumulate more power for itself and override the will of the people."

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