In a stirring, swift decision, Dane County judge Maryann Sumi stopped Governor Walker's controversial budget repair bill in its tracks, issuing a temporary restraining order and stating Wisconsin's open meetings law was probably violated when a legislative conference committee rushed the bill through to the state Senate.More >>
MADISON (WKOW) -- Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen appealed a judge's court order halting the progress of a controversial collective bargaining bill, while the senate's majority leader questioned the judge's ethics.
Dane County judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order blocking the bill and its elimination of most public employee collective bargaining rights. Sumi found lawmakers probably violated open meetings requirements when they gave the public just two hours notice of a key legislative committee meeting on the bill.
In the appeal, Van Hollen focused on Sumi's actions as they related to the separation of powers between branches of government.
"While the judiciary may evaluate the constitutionality of a law once the legislative process is complete, it may not stop the legislative process in its tracks."
In a ruling Friday, Sumi said she was mindful not to invade the province of legislative powers, and said her actions were permissible.
Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who is participating in convening the conference committee, questioned Sumi's role in sitting in judgment of the case.
"She probably should have been conflicted out of even ruling on this in the first place. I wish she would have been more forthcoming."
Fitzgerald told 27 News Sumi had a conflict of interest in the case because her son, Jacob Sinderbrand, had criticized the bill on Facebook and previously worked for labor unions.
In a statement, Sumi wrote she had no ethical conflict.
"My kids are adults, they are independent, and they lead their own lives. I do not consult my family about my decisions."
Sumi's decision ordered Secretary of State Doug La Follette to refrain from publishing the bill. Such publishing gives a bill the force of law, and La Follette had been prepared to publish it March 25. La Follette is given ten days to publish a bill after its signing.
The appeal argues Sumi lacked authority to block La Follette from publishing. La Follette said he would honor Sumi's order.
Van Hollen also asked the appellate court to stay, or delay, imposition of Sumi's order while the appeal took place.
Van Hollen also asked for the case to go directly to the state supreme court because of the magnitude of the legal issues involved.
The submission of the appeal also included a request for the appellate court to grant permission for the appeal, a necessary step in cases such as temporary halts, which are not final court orders.
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