MacIver News Service | March 21, 2011
[Madison, Wisc...] The Wisconsin Department of Justice has filed a motion with the 4th District Court of Appeals, seeking an order staying Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi’s temporary restraining order blocking the publication of 2011 Wis. Act 10.
“The publication of this Act will allow the State to save significant money–evidence of which the trial court did not allow presented and did not appear to consider are the cost savings identified by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau which require, of course, publication.” the motion reads. “Thus it is vitally important that this Court act before March 25, 2011–the last possible publication date provided by law–so as to not harm the State.”
Since the Budget Repair Bill passed the legislature, numerous municipalities and school districts have rushed, via emergency meetings, to approve multi-year contracts with labor unions in an attempt to circumvent the restrictions contained within Act 10.
Last week, Judge Sumi granted a temporary restraining order blocking publication of the bill, which contains changes to the collective bargaining process for public employees in Wisconsin.
The judge made her announcement Friday morning, saying she did not see sufficient evidence indicating the legislative conference committee could not have given a 24-hour notice for its meeting last week.
Implementation of the Act cannot begin until it is officially published by the Secretary of State. Sumi’s order puts that process on hold, a move Van Hollen argues exceeds her authority.
“Decisions of the Supreme Court are equally clear that Acts may not be enjoined where the claim is that a rule of legislative procedure, even one as important as the Open Meetings law, has been violated,” Van Hollen said upon Sumi’s ruling last week. “No matter whether individual citizens agree with the substance of the bill or the manner in which it was enacted, I would hope all see the value in ensuring this matter be given the opportunity to work its way expeditiously through the judicial process.”
In their brief, filed Monday, the DOJ argued: “Court does not need to determine whether the Open Meetings Law was violated. Instead, it must only assess whether a court may issue an injunction against a party over whom it has no personal jurisdiction, whether a court may issue an injunction to interfere with the constitutional power of the Legislature to declare what shall become law, and whether a court may issue an injunction to suspend publication of a law on a legal basis that does not provide the court with the authority to declare the law void. If the court lacks any of these powers, the TRO must be promptly vacated.”
The Department of Justice has asked to the Court of Appeals to review Sumi’s decision or to directly petition the state Supreme Court for relief.