What the hell, Wisconsin?
After splitting the bill and jamming it through both houses without Democrats present, Wisconsin Republicans are now taking the position that the law goes into effect on Saturday even though just last week, a judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining any implementation of the law while the court considers several lawsuits challenging it. Here’s what happened as far as I understand it:
The Republicans jammed the bill through on March 9. Walker signed the bill on March 11. Secretary of State La Follette designated today as the date of publication. After the court issued the TRO, La Follette told the Reference Bureau (a non-partisan legislative bureau which publishes bills) that he was rescinding the publication date. The Reference Bureau published the law today anyway calling the publication “merely procedural,” and stating that it was required to publish the law within 10 working days of the governor signing the bill, on the date designated by the Secretary of State. (If La Follette rescinded the publication date, then why did the Reference Bureau publish it anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.)
In any event, and despite the Reference Bureau calling the publication “procedural” and categorically stating that publication does not equal implementation, the question becomes is that true?1 Is publication implementation or is it just a procedural measure? It’s a question the courts will have to answer.
Of course Walker and Cronies (specifically Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald) are claiming that the law has been published and therefore goes into effect tomorrow, which makes exactly zero sense since the judge enjoined its implementation. Fitzgerald is claiming — stupidly — that because the TRO does not reference the Reference Bureau specifically, that the TRO does not apply to the Reference Bureau.
That, comrades, is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. Essentially, the assholes in Wisconsin are trying to do an end-run around the court’s order. It’s pure gamesmanship, not likely to pass muster, and more than likely to piss off the court.
In non-legal terms, it’s BULLSHIT. The bullshittery becomes apparent when one reads the court’s order:
[T]he necessity to preserve the status quo. I think relief is essential to preserve the status quo, which is what exists here and now. The bill has passed. But it has not been published. I think a legitimate question might be asked, how can something so apparently minor – the failure to provide timely notice prior to a meeting that led to the enactment of the 2011 Wisconsin 10 – how can a minor failure of notice really halt this bill in its tracks?
And my answer to that is – it’s not minor. It’s not a minor detail. And bear with me for a homely analogy. Those few of you who may have seen the Super Bowl know that there was a much-photographed guy with a cheesehead, and it said “owner” on it. And of course, we all know what that refers to, the fact that the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned. It’s a heartwarming moment to see that, but in fact, it states that we in Wisconsin own our government. We own it. And we own it in three ways. We own it by the vote. We own it by the duty to provide open and public access to records, so that the activities of government can be monitored. And we own it in that we are entitled by law to free and open access to governmental meetings, and especially governmental meetings that lead to the resolution of very highly conflicted and controversial matters.
That’s our right. And a violation of that right is tantamount to a violation of what is already provided in the Constitution, open doors, open access, and that nothing in this government happens in secret.
I am now issuing a restraining order preventing further implementation of this act. And I want to read to you from a case, State ex rel. Hodge vs. Town of Turtle Lake, on the meaning of the Open Meetings Law. The Wisconsin Supreme Court states: “The purpose of the Open Meetings Law is to protect the public’s right to be informed to the fullest extent of the affairs of government. The public’s interest in enforcement of the open meetings law weighs heavily in matters such as this, where governmental bodies discuss topics of public controversy and concern behind closed doors.”
The Court continued: “An open meetings law is not necessary to ensure openness in easy and noncontroversial matters where no one really cares whether the meeting is open or not. Like the First Amendment, which exists to protect unfavored speech, the Open Meetings Law exists to ensure open government in controversial matters. The Open Meetings Law functions to ensure that these difficult matters are decided without bias or regard for issues such as race, gender, or economic status, and with highest regard for the interests of the community. This requires, with very few exceptions, that governmental meetings be held in full view of the community.”
Those words were written by Justice William A. Bablitch, who passed away just a month ago. His words live on here, and they set the direction for how the Open Meetings Law is to be construed, applied, and enforced.
I do, therefore, restrain and enjoin the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. The next step in implementation of that law would be the publication of that law by the Secretary of State. He is restrained and enjoined from such publication until further order of this court.
The hearing on the Petitioner’s request for a preliminary injunction is set for March 29, 2011.
Can you see how absolutely stupid Fitzgerald’s position is? That because the court enjoined the Secretary of State from publishing the law, but didn’t specifically enjoin the Reference Bureau from publishing the law (which can only publish the law upon the Secretary of State saying it can publish the law), and even though the Reference Bureau apparently published the law despite the Secretary of State’s order not to publish the law, it’s already published! It’s out there! No takesy-backsies!
Render unto me a break already. It’s dumbassedness to the extreme.
Hopefully the court will either amend or clarify its order next week, and will tell Walker and his goons to settle the fuck down. In what world can one just ignore a court order and do whatever the fuck one wants?
Oh yeah, in Teabilly Town.
What a bunch of dishonest crooks.
1 Actually, the question becomes “what the fuck is wrong with these people and will they do us a favor and set themselves on fire?”
[cross-posted here at Angry Black lady Chronicles]