Breaking: WI judge issues third version of TRO

posted at 11:01 am on March 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Nothing builds confidence in a judicial decision that has to get rewritten twice in order to actually have its intended effect.  Judge Maryann Sumi has revised her temporary restraining order yet again in order to stop the state of Wisconsin from enforcing its reform bill:

The contentious collective bargaining law, Wisconsin Act 10, which would strip most public workers of nearly all collective bargaining rights and force them to contribute more to their pension and health plans, is not in effect, according to an amended restraining order released on Thursday morning.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi made the amended ruling at 8:15 a.m. She has already issued an emergency order blocking Wisconsin’s secretary of state from publishing the law. Sumi called a hearing Tuesday to weigh District Attorney Ismael Ozanne’s lawsuit alleging Republican legislative leaders violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during debate on the proposal.

Sumi re-issued her order on Tuesday — and this time she has warned that anyone who violates it will face sanctions. She amended the ruling on Thursday to read, “Further, based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29 evidentiary hearing, it is hereby declared that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published …”

If Sumi expects to have her decisions upheld by the state Supreme Court, perhaps she should take care to write them properly in the first place.   She will have trouble explaining how she justified interfering with the publication of  law in defiance with Wisconsin precedent, and I doubt that the Supreme Court will give her three tries to get that right.  Furthermore, her commentary about the legislature’s ability to work around her won’t exactly be seen as uninterested jurisprudence, either.

This puts even more pressure on the Supreme Court to take the case immediately and clarify matters, not the least of which is Sumi’s attempt to enjoin parties not part of the original lawsuit.


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OK, I looked into the rules of the Senate and the Open Meetings law (which some previous commenters have touched on), and here is a link with all the relevant rules:
http://volokh.com/2011/03/10/wis-senate-clerk-only-notice-required-for-committee-meeting-was-posting-on-bulletin-board/

Here’s the Open Meetings Law itself:
http://www.wisfoic.org/an-openmeetingslaw.html

Basically, the Open Meetings Law has an exception for any legislative rules that conflict:

(2) No provision of this subchapter which conflicts with a rule of the senate or assembly or joint rule of the legislature shall apply to a meeting conducted in compliance with such rule.

Then the Senate and Assembly both have rules for a special session saying simply:

Senate Rule 93 (2)
(2) A notice of a committee meeting is not required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board, and a bulletin of committee hearings may not be published.

As such, there is not even a 2 hr. minimum requirement notice called for by the Open Meetings law (in cases where the normal 24 hours is not possible or practical). The legislature is specifically exempted from that part of the Open Meetings law by the Open Meetings law itself!

Even so, the Republicans waited for 2 hrs. after the posting on the legislative bulletin board just for good measure, so it even meets the requirements of the Open Meetings law even if the legislature wasn’t exempted.

It is clear as day after a brief review of the governing laws and rules that appropriate procedure was followed. There is absolutely no basis to in any way justify what this rogue judge is doing.

She is clearly a partisan hack who hopes to delay the law long enough for another partisan hack to get elected next Tuesday by the unions to the Supreme Court so that hopefully a majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will also ignore the law and strike down the legally passed bill.

willamettevalley on April 1, 2011 at 1:31 PM

You also have to figure in overwhelming ego and hubris…this silly Judge really thinks she has the power to pretty much do whatever she desires and everyone else is obligated to obey.

It really appears the Judges in WI are simply political hacks where actual law is trumped by politics.

JIMV on April 1, 2011 at 8:16 PM

This woman is a fascist, deserving of execution in a moral country.

proconstitution on March 31, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Wishing anyone to be executed over a state political matter is a bit much.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 1, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Why do these liberals both men and women consistently appear ungroomed and griimmmy?? A bunch of Dorian Grey portraits in the mouldy flesh.

She is no doubt a very nasty sort with the looks to match and I do not think it a coincidence.

Sherman1864 on April 3, 2011 at 3:04 AM

This woman is a fascist, deserving of execution in a moral country.

proconstitution on March 31, 2011 at 8:41 PM
Wishing anyone to be executed over a state political matter is a bit much.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 1, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Then could we “extension” our politics into war or something. Bismarck would agree.

Anyway, thanks Doc, for the profound advice.

Where is that Stuart Smalley(sp?) guy when you need him? Oh, yeah, I forgot . . . .

He`s a SENATOR!!

The shame of it all . . . .

I need a couple of bufferinsnsns . . . .

Sherman1864 on April 3, 2011 at 3:11 AM

?

Sherman1864 on April 3, 2011 at 3:11 AM

blink on May 27, 2011 at 8:49 AM

A bit of a delayed response here, but in answer to your questions, the answers are yes. The Open Meetings Law exempts the WI legislature and allows it to set its own rules.

The WI Senate rules for a special session only state that notice of a committee meeting must be posted on the legislative bulletin board, but does not even have a time requirement of how long prior to the meeting the posting must be made.

I blockquoted the exact laws and rules above, and linked to the supporting material.

Finally, it doesn’t matter what was argued in front of the judge. It is the judge’s job to refer to the applicable law and rule accordingly.

willamettevalley on May 26, 2012 at 7:46 PM

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