Madness in Madison – What Powers do Judges Have?

By YeOldeScribe ~ March 31st, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

Judge Maryann Sumi doesn’t get back in the courtroom until tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped her from (temporarily) smacking down the Budget Repair Bill – and it hasn’t stopped Republicans from continuously demeaning her, her ruling, and her profession. You’ll recall that a few days ago, Judge Sumi made the following statement:

“Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear.”

Just to make things more than crystal clear, she amended her Temporary Restraining Order today to include the following:

“FURTHER, based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29th, 2011 evidentiary hearing, it is hereby DECLARED that the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published within the meaning of Wis. Stats. 991.11, 35.095(1)(b) and 35.o95 (3)(b), and is therefore not in effect.”

And wouldn’t you know, more than crystal clear wasn’t clear enough.

From our new favorite friend Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch:

“I have a legal obligation to execute all laws pertaining to my department that have been passed by both houses of the legislature, signed by the Governor, and published into law. The Department of Justice has concluded that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has met those requirements and is now effective law. My legal counsel agrees with the Department of Justice’s legal reasoning and conclusions. Accordingly, it is my duty to administer that law.

“On the other hand, Judge Sumi made clear in comments from the bench yesterday that she intended to prevent further implementation of Act 10 by anyone including, apparently, non-parties such as myself and the Department of Administration… It is unclear how she can issue an order binding non-parties to a case who have not had their day in court.

“Because of the questions this TRO raises, its legal effect on my implementation of Act 10 is also unclear.”

Wisconsin Department of Justice chimed in as well, saying “As we told the Court, we have serious concerns about the court’s decision to continue these proceedings under the current set of circumstances.”

If you’ll recall, two days ago we said, “Only time will tell how stupid Huebsch really is – frankly, we want him to try and implement the bill now that Sumi’s made it clear that he and his boss can’t.” We almost got our wish – until Walker and Huebsch finally backed down a bit today. So here’s where we stand: The Budget Repair Bill is not law, Judge Sumi will continue her hearings tomorrow on whether the bill was passed in violation of open meetings laws, and the state is complying (for a change).

One of the arguments against Sumi is that she lacks the power to make such a ruling because a) legislators have immunity while the legislature is in session and b) a judge can’t declare a bill unconstitutional – only a law. We’ll take a look at both these issues, then poke fun at Madison’s Republican Party. (Trust us, it’s worth sticking around for.)

First, it’s very true that legislators have immunity from the courts (besides felonies) while they’re in a session. However, take a closer look at Judge Sumi’s ruling. It doesn’t say that Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Huebsch, or Walker were being punished, and the original injunction doesn’t say that Secretary of State Doug La Follette did anything wrong either. The lawsuit wasn’t about charging the legislators with a crime – it was about saying that the bill they created was spawned via unconstitutional measures. Here’s where things get a little murky – the unconstitutionality of the law stems from the Republicans violating open meeting laws. So do the Repubs have immunity from those laws? We don’t think so. See, it goes back to the fact that the Republicans aren’t being charged with a crime. It’s not like the Madison Police could pull over Fitzgerald for violating open meeting laws. Because the Repubs aren’t being charged for a crime, they’re not immune here. Remember, the bill is what’s on trial here – not the Republican Lawmakers who published it. That’s the difference.

Second, although it’s not clearly stated, we believe Sumi has to have the power to stop the bill from becoming law if she deems how it was created was unconstitutional. That’s true for three reasons. First, what good is having laws like the open meetings laws if they can’t be enforced? If Judge Sumi isn’t allowed to declare the bill unconstitutional because it violates open meeting laws, then who does have that power? The congressmen who violated the law in the first place? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s like saying from now on, all speed limits on highways will be self-enforced (or that they exist, but won’t be enforced). The end result would be chaos – and we’re starting to see that in government, too. Secondly, judges should have the power to rule bills unconstitutional. Many Republicans are arguing that Sumi has the powers to declare laws unconstitutional, but not bills. That doesn’t make sense either. So the bill has to become law first? Wouldn’t that be convenient for the Republicans – then the damage is already done. If, after the evidence is gathered and both sides present their case, Judge Sumi finds the bill unconstitutional, what’s she supposed to do? Lift the injunction against La Follette and let it pass anyway? That doesn’t make any sense.

Finally, we’d like to take a look at the Dane County GOP. Now, we understand that Republicans aren’t happy with the most recent decision coming out of Madison, but hey, now they know how the rest of us feel. We’re even okay with them questioning the scope of Judge Sumi’s power, because granting any branch of government too much power is something that defenders of democracy should be worried about. But in an “apology” released yesterday, the Republicans in our state capitol go so far over the ethical line they’re probably in uncharted territory. We’ll list their “apology” word for word, and our analysis will be in parentheses:

“The Republican Party of Dane County sent out a press release on March 29th criticizing Judge Maryann Sumi for holding up the publication of Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reform bill.  Upon further reflection we’d like to apologize for not understanding her point of view.

Sure, Governor Walker’s bill is unquestionably constitutional (lies), increases worker’s rights (April Fool’s is tomorrow, guys) and helps local government balance budgets (big lie) without having to fire public workers (they’ll all just retire instead).  The Wisconsin state legislature consulted with their non-partisan parliamentarian (if they’re talking about the DOJ, you can see above how non-partisan they are… and most non-partisan attorneys in the state agree the law shouldn’t go int effect yet) to make sure that the passage of the bill followed the rules of the Senate and Assembly (minus open meetings laws, of course).  But this isn’t about the law, is it? (TRUE – but not for the reasons they think.)

The Republican Party of Dane County recognizes that Judge Sumi is a leftist (for shame!) living in Dane County (hey, at least she lives in her jurisdiction, unlike some people) .  Her friends are leftists living in Dane County (round them up!).  Her son is a left wing activist in Dane County (read: he’s interested in deomcracy).  She goes to cocktail parties held by leftists in Dane County (because true Republicans start to melt at the sight of anything other than Miller, apparently).  She shops at organic gourmet food shops run by leftists living in Dane County.

(Okay, sorry, but we had to take a break here. Really GOP? That’s the best you can do? She shops organic? Well then, by all means, remove her from the bench! Defrock her! Put her up in town square and tar & feather her! How dare she shop organic! The audacity of that woman, to try and free her family from pesticides and to achieve a higher nutritional value out of her meals! What an affront to democracy she is because she is against animal cruelty! True Wisconsinites know the only good cow is a dead cow between a sesame seed bun! Crucify her! CRUCIFY THE ORGANIC SHOPPER!!!)

If she were to enforce the law of Wisconsin and do what was in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin, she’d be exiled from her lifestyle (as would thousands of hard-working union employees).  She’d lose her friends! (and her precious organic foods!)

The leadership of the Republican Party of Dane County have all made the choice to stand against the Dane County elite (those damn organic-loving hippies).  We accept that Left feels righteous vandalizing our homes and keying our cars.

(*sigh* We honestly don’t know what this is in reference to. At best guess, this is either a non-sequitur, some sort of stereotype that minorities who traditionally lean left are criminals,  or Republicans talking out of their ass again. We’ll go with all of the above just to be safe.)

It’s only fair. We disagree based upon logic and principle (True – we have logic and principle on our side, and you just disagree).  That is intolerable!  We prioritize the Constitution (when it’s convenient for us to do so) and the well being of the people of Wisconsin (super-lie) over foie gras at cocktail parties (we’re surprised they could spell foie gras, to be honest, much less use it correctly in a sentence).  That’s the choice we made.  We respect Judge Sumi’s decision to live her life with the rich diversity that liberals cherish (apparently adhering to the democratic process constitutes that life choice liberals cherish).”

On that note, PoliticalProgressives.com will return on Saturday, as our writer will be working all day and night tomorrow. Stay progressive, people!

RSSSubscribe to blog feed.

Leave a Reply

Comment RSS  |  Trackback URI

©2007-2020 Political Progressives | powered by WordPress | Theme Design:Fat Cat Designs