Dane County DA Filed Lawsuit
March 18, 2011- A Dane County judge issued a restraining order on Friday to block publication of the state's collective bargaining law.
Judge Maryann Sumi issued the order to temporarily block the law as Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne had requested as part of his lawsuit. She said the order will stop publication until further order of the court. Sumi said that while the order blocks the law's publication, she said she has no authority to prevent the Legislature from voting on the controversial bill again.
"I am now issuing a restraining order preventing further implementation of this act," she said.
Ozanne filed the suit on Wednesday accusing Republican legislative leaders of violating Wisconsin's open meetings law during the rushed run-up to a Senate vote on the legislation last week.
Attorneys for the state Department of Justice asked the judge for a stay of the order, but Sumi denied the request.
The judge said that she wasn't weighing the purpose of law in issuing the order, rather the procedure.
"What I want to make clear is I make no judgments on merit of legislation," she said.
She said she was just interpreting the state's open meetings law.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the DOJ intends to appeal the judge's ruling, according to a statement released by his office.
"The Legislature and the governor, not a single Dane County Circuit Court judge, are responsible for the enactment of laws," Van Hollen was quoted as saying.
Van Hollen argued that the state Supreme Court has made it clear judges can't stop the secretary of state from publishing a law or be stopped when the claim pertains to a rule of legislative procedure.
Ozanne, a Democrat, contended in the suit that a legislative committee broke a political stalemate that had kept the law in limbo for weeks by meeting without the 24-hour notice required by Wisconsin's open meetings law. The Republican majority voted last week to pass the legislation without Senate Democrats, who had left the state to block just such a vote. Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law last week.
The bill can't take effect until it's formally published, and the Democratic secretary of state said he plans to wait the full 10 days allowed to publish it March 25.