The state Assembly on Tuesday stopped just short of passing a bill that could prevent injunctions blocking state laws from taking effect. The bill would automatically stay any circuit court decision that finds a state law unconstitutional if the ruling is appealed.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) was among Democrats who criticized the legislation as an abuse of power that raises serious legal questions. Barca said if you “talked to ten judges, I’d be shocked if you could find more than one that would say that this is anything but unconstitutional.”
Democrats tried unsuccessfully to send the bill back to an Assembly committee, with many lawmakers arguing the Legislature’s own attorneys have raised concerns about the legality of the change.
Republicans contend the bill does not violate the powers of the judicial branch, since it does not stop judges from issuing injunctions that overturn state laws. It simply requires judicial review at higher level before those rulings can take effect.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) defended the bill as necessary to keep judges from a single county from stopping the will of the Legislature. While he admitted the bill is likely to end up in court, Vos argued it will give the state a chance to show “it’s the Legislature that should be given the benefit of the doubt when laws are enacted.”
The change would hold up decisions like several recent rulings in Dane County Court, which blocked Republican’s voter ID law and Governor Walker’s controversial limits on collective bargaining for public employees.
Democrats used a procedural move to delay a final vote until a later date.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)