(Reuters) – The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday upheld a last-ditch Republican move late last year to curb the powers of incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers, ruling that passing such measures in lame-duck sessions is constitutionally permissible.
The 4-3 decision overturned a lower court ruling in March that had blocked the legislation, criticized by Democrats as a power-grab. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niesshad found that the state legislature’s use of an “extraordinary session” was unlawful.
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“We hold that the extraordinary sessions do not violate the Wisconsin constitution because the text of our constitution directs the legislature to meet at times as ‘provided by law,'” Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley wrote for the majority.
A state statute gives the legislature discretion to set its work schedule, including meeting during “an extraordinary session,” she added.
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Evers slammed the decision as a politically-motivated “attack on the will of the people, our democracy, and our system of government,” while Republican legislative leaders called the failed challenge a special interest-driven waste of taxpayer money.
The case, brought by the Wisconsin League of Women Voters and other groups, was one of several court challenges to the December 2018 party-line votes by the Republican-led legislature to weaken Evers’ authority as governor.
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