News about the lame-duck laws approved in December dominated the headlines again last week in Wisconsin politics. A second Dane County judge blocked portions of the laws, which limit the powers of new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. Then, an appeals court reinstated the laws except for the parts that the Dane County judge blocked.
But, before the courts reinstated the laws, Evers had already rescinded 82 appointments that Republicans approved during the lame-duck session. So, what's the status of those appointments now? That's what WUWM's Marti Mikkelson speaks with JR Ross, of WisPolitics.com, about in this week's Capitol Notes conversation.
Evers re-hired all but 15 of the appointees late last week. Ross predicts Republicans, who control the legislature, will take more legal action. On Monday, GOP lawmakers filed a motion with the 3rd District Court of Appeals, asking the court to force Evers to comply with the stay, and put all 82 appointees back in their jobs.
Ross also talks about the Wisconsin Supreme Court election on Tuesday. The race pits conservative Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn against Appeals Judge Lisa Neubauer, who is backed by Democrats. Ross says the interesting thing is, while this race hasn't even been decided yet, Marquette University Law Professor Ed Fallone threw his hat into the ring for next year's race, when conservative Justice Daniel Kelly's seat is up. Fallone ran against conservative Justice Pat Roggensack in 2013 and lost.
It's unusual for a candidate to get in to next year's race so early, he says, but it could indicate how high the stakes might be for April 2020. If Neubauer wins on Tuesday, the court would maintain a 4-3 conservative bench. Ross says next year could be a difficult race for Kelly because the election will be held on the same day as Wisconsin's presidential preference primaries. With President Trump not likely to face a Republican challenger, turnout is likely to be higher among Democrats, and could tip the scales to a liberal-leaning court.