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    Wisconsin Supreme Court Overturns Judge Sumi

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Overturns Judge Sumi

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court has just released a decision (here) overturning Judge Sumi’s ruling invalidating the Wisconsin collective bargaining bill.

    Some key language from the ruling, which overturned Judge Sumi’s rulings both procedurally (for interfering in the legislative process) and substantively (there was no violation of the Open Meetings Law)(emphasis mine):

    ¶6 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all orders and judgments of the Dane County Circuit Court in Case No. 2011CV1244 are vacated and declared to be void ab initio. State ex rel. Nader v. Circuit Court for Dane Cnty., No. 2004AP2559-W, unpublished order (Wis. S. Ct. Sept. 30, 2004) (wherein this court vacated the prior orders of the circuit court in the same case).

    ¶7 This court has granted the petition for an original action because one of the courts that we are charged with supervising has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature….

    ¶9 Although all orders that preceded the circuit court’s judgment in Case No. 2011CV1244 may be characterized as moot in some respects, the court addresses whether a court can enjoin publication of a bill. The court does so because whether a court can enjoin a bill is a matter of great public importance and also because it appears necessary to confirm that Goodland remains the law that all courts must follow. State v. Cramer, 98 Wis. 2d 416, 420, 296 N.W.2d 921 (1980) (noting that we consider questions that have become moot “where the question is one of great public importance . . . or of public interest,” or “where the problem is likely to recur and is of sufficient importance to warrant a holding which will guide trial courts in similar circumstances”). Accordingly, because the circuit court did not follow the court’s directive in Goodland, it exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers under Article IV, Section 1 and Section 17 of the Wisconsin Constitution, and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the Act.

    ¶10 Article IV, Section 17 of the Wisconsin Constitution vests the legislature with the constitutional power to “provide by law” for publication. The legislature has set the requirements for publication. However, the Secretary of State has not yet fulfilled his statutory duty to publish a notice of publication of the Act in the official state newspaper, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 14.38(10)(c). Due to the vacation of the circuit court’s orders, there remain no impediments to the Secretary of State fulfilling his obligations under § 14.38(10)(c).

    ¶11 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that we have concluded that in enacting the Act, the legislature did not employ a process that violated Article IV, Section 10 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which provides in relevant part: “The doors of each house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall require secrecy.” The doors of the senate and assembly were kept open to the press and members of the public during the enactment of the Act. The doors of the senate parlor, where the joint committee on conference met, were open to the press and members of the public. WisconsinEye broadcast the proceedings live. Access was not denied.[1] There is no constitutional requirement that the legislature provide access to as many members of the public as wish to attend meetings of the legislature or meetings of legislative committees.

    The Court adopted the argument I had made here many times, that the Courts had no business questioning the legislature’s interpretation of its own rules:

    13  It also is argued that the Act is invalid because the legislature did not follow certain notice provisions of the Open Meetings Law for the March 9, 2011 meeting of the joint committee on conference.  It is argued that Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3) required 24 hours notice of that meeting and such notice was not given.  It is undisputed that the legislature posted notices of the March 9, 2011 meeting of the joint committee on conference on three bulletin boards, approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes before the start of the meeting.  In the posting of notice that was done, the legislature relied on its interpretation of its own rules of proceeding.  The court declines to review the validity of the procedure used to give notice of the joint committee on conference…. 

    This is a sweeping victory for Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker.  (And for my prior legal anaylsis, but that’s another matter.  I’ll be spiking the football, for sure.)

    This also is a vindication for the legal strategy of not backing down to the unjust, unwise, uncalled-for, unlawful rulings of Judge Sumi, who engaged in clearly unsound legal reasoning which — whether intended or not — took on the appearance of political posturing.

    Okay, analysis done, now I spike the football by referencing my prior posts:

    • Judge Sumi’s Mess (“Judge Maryann Sumi preemptively issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which she thought … would stop the publication of the budget repair bill, and therefore prevent the bill from becoming law.  This was an unprecedented move, and none of the legal arguments which attacked the validity of the law necessitated such interference in the legislative process.”)
    • Judge Sumi Throws Out Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law (“It is one thing for a court to rule on the validity of a law, but quite another thing for a court to stop the legislature from making law. Judge Sumi gives short shrift (at pp. 13-14) to the key Wisconsin case which says courts must await a law coming into effect before ruling on the law, Goodland v. Zimmerman. Judge Sumi summarily dismisses the import of Goodland by stating that it was a pre-Open Meetings law ruling. Well, chronologically yes, but the principle is the same; courts rule on legislation, courts do not stop legislation from being made.”)

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    Sorry if this was already mentioned – but had Kloppenburg beat Prosser, the ruling would have gone 4-3 against the law rather than 4-3 for it. Something to keep in mind, and this not only is huge for Walker and WI elected Republicans, but state legislatures and Republicans all across the country fighting union collective bargaining, overreach and theft of private property. And this is a HUGE loss for the Democrat Money Laundering operation!

    Peg C. – The justices voted 7-0 to overturn Sumi's decision, so the recent election made no difference. The 3 dissenters only point was that the Wis. SCOTUS should have taken more time or not gone as far. The issue there is perhaps more detailed than one can address in the comment section of a blog, but the upshot is that the court's decision yesterday (perhaps ironically?) establishes that Wisconsin's Open Meetings law is unconstitutional, which obviously can have far-reaching implications that go well beyond our current budget repair act.

    Does this mean the open meetings law is now invalid, or moot? Isnt the open meetings law part of the WI constitution and not a rule of the legislature? If the legislature can ignore a law, at will, without repercussions, why did they even cooperate with the Judges ruling at all?

    Does this mean the open meetings law is now invalid, or moot?

    Of course not. Why would you even think that?

    Isnt the open meetings law part of the WI constitution

    What a moronic idea! What part of "law" do you not understand?

    and not a rule of the legislature?

    No, it's not that either. Again, what part of "law" do you not understand?

    If the legislature can ignore a law, at will, without repercussions,

    They probably can, but in this case they didn't.

    why did they even cooperate with the Judges ruling at all?

    The legislature didn't. The governor did, and he probably did so out of an exaggerated and misplaced respect for the judiciary; if I were Walker I would have told Sumi to shove her ultra vires orders where the sun don't shine, and wouldn't even have bothered to be represented at her purported hearings.

    Mason | June 16, 2011 at 1:22 am

    simplyscrummy says:

    "I can respect the viewpoints of those here, but…what a smug bunch of snots!"

    Also, simplyscrummy says:

    "At least I do care about manners…"


    What an…interesting…definition of "manners." I didn't realize that Emily Post endorsed butting one's way into a conversation by insulting one's fellow guests. Perhaps Judith Martin will comment on this at some point, and then we can get a definitive answer.

    Oh, and before I forget:

    "I actually came here hoping to understand the case and the decision better–trying to understand opposing viewpoints, objectivity and all that. It would appear it doesn't pay to try to do things like that."

    Either you're the least self-aware person I've met in many moons, or the consummate troll. I'm going to assume for your sake that it's the former, and stake you to some very valuable advice. When trying to understand opposing viewpoints, it is probably NOT best to make one's opening conversational gambit an insult. People who do that generally tend to come across as, to coin a phrase, a "smug bunch of snots."

    WV: bilad — My way of of keeping my temper in check by bidding a not-so-fond auf wiedersehn to many left-wingers on the Internet.

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