A dangerous proposal is being fast-tracked in the State Capitol. An intrusion of the legislature upon the judiciary, AB 161 would damage the critical checks and balances which protect citizens from the abuse of power by one branch of government.
Proponents of the bill complain that, currently, one judge elected by voters in one county is able to block implementation of a statute that was passed by the full legislature and signed by the Governor. They cite the injunctions on voter ID and parts of the collective bargaining law as examples.
Yet that is why we have higher courts. If the state believes a judge has incorrectly blocked a law as unconstitutional, it may appeal the ruling and seek to reverse a preliminary injunction. In the case of voter ID, the state sought a stay of the injunctions from two circuit court judges, two appeals court panels and the state Supreme Court. A total of 15 judges and justices—not just one—declined to stay the injunctions. Thus a process already exists to appeal a preliminary injunction. It is not an easy process, nor should it be. Judges have to be able to block laws they deem to be in violation of the constitution.
This bill could allow the legislature to pass unconstitutional laws without consequences. The Wisconsin Legislative Council, the legislature’s independent nonpartisan legal research service, has concluded that the proposed law may very well violate the state constitution
Contact your state legislators and urge them to reject AB161 and its companion bill SB154. Click here to find your elected official’s contact info