News outlets are reporting that the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) has published Governor Walker's union-busting bill, despite a court order preventing publication on grounds that the bill's passage likely violated Open Meetings laws. A quick review of the statutes suggests the bill may have become law, but also suggests the entire court battle may have been focused on the wrong characters, and that the state has arguably violated the court order.
A Wisconsin appellate court is asking the state Supreme Court to consider Attorney General JB Van Hollen's appeal of last Friday's order halting implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill. Because the appeal raises significant issues the Wisconsin Supreme Court would review on appeal, the court believes judicial efficiency warrants fast-tracking the case. This places Justice David Prosser in an awkward position.
The Center for Media and Democracy's Senior Fellow Wendell Potter has been awarded the 2011 Ridenhour Book Prize for his work, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Healthcare and Deceiving Americans.
The world recently discovered that 22 year old, alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning was subject to inhumane and degrading conditions while being held in military prison. Were his wardens fired? No, the head on the chopping block is State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who denounced Manning's treatment in an off-the-cuff remark on a college campus.
Obama's acquiescence over the status of Guantanamo Bay has brought attention back to the detention facility and the controversial information extraction and confinement practices which are carried out behind its walls. While most Americans probably think that these harsh procedures are reserved for violent "enemy combatants," they would be surprised to learn that some of the same techniques are used on American citizens on U.S. soil.
But that is precisely what seems to be happening to Manning, the Army Private accused of supplying WikiLeaks with sensitive information.
As CMD has previously reported, Governor Walker's budget bill will have a negative impact on Wisconsin's populations of color, especially in regards to perpetuating Wisconsin's atrocious record of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Walker's effort to prolong prison sentences will also result in increased costs not reflected in the budget, at the expense of spending on education and health.
Attorney General JB Van Hollen is seeking to appeal last Friday's order halting implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill. While the trial court found that the bill's rushed passage likely violated state Open Meetings laws, the Court of Appeals is being asked to consider whether that decision conflicted with separation of powers principles.
As CMD has reported, on March 18 Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi found that legislators had likely violated Open Meetings laws by providing inadequate notice for the March 9 Joint Conference Committee meeting and subsequent Senate vote that amended and passed Gov. Walker's controversial bill. In making her decision, Judge Sumi noted that the law states "any actions taken at a meeting of a governmental body held in violation [of Open Meetings law] are voidable," provided that the District Attorney brings the suit and the public interest in voiding the bill outweighs any public interest in upholding it. Sumi emphasized the Constitutionally-recognized public interest in ensuring open government, stating "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."
Amidst the ongoing labor struggle in Wisconsin and national efforts to cut programs while giving breaks to business, the race for a swing vote seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has heated up.
While Wisconsin protest coverage has focused on GOP efforts to limit public sector collective bargaining, less attention has been given to the Republican attack on the poor and people of color. On Saturday, activists gathered at the Exposing Colorlines event at the capitol to focus on the under-reported aspects of Walker's budget and proposed GOP legislation.
WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DEBATE BETWEEN INCUMBENT DAVID PROSSER AND CHALLENGER JOANNE KLOPPENBURG
10:00 p.m. - Brendan Fischer reports:
With recently-released emails suggesting Prosser has contributed to discord on the state's highest court, Prosser recommended that greater civility could be achieved with "outside studies," and Kloppenburg questioned whether animosity between justices could cloud the decisionmaking process. She asked, "are judges making decisions based on law, or based on personal animosity?" Throughout the debate, Prosser circled back to ads being run against him by the group Greater Milwaukee Committee pointing out he did not prosecute a pedophiliac priest when Prosser was a District Attorney. "This is the worst ad ever run in a judicial campaign," he said. Both sides brought up ads run against former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler by current Justice Michael Gableman that made the ludicrous suggestion Butler found a "loophole" to free a rapist so he could rape again (Butler was appointed the case as a public defender, got a new trial but lost at the Supreme Court, and the man served his entire sentence). While Prosser joined the half of the court that refused to censure Gableman for the ad, Prosser subtly compared it to the "pedophiliac priest" ad to turn the tables. Kloppenburg pointed out that the ads against Prosser were run by a third-party group, whereas the Gableman ads were produced by his own campaign. Nonetheless, Kloppenburg declined to ask the Greater Milwaukee Committee to take down their ads when challenged to do so by Prosser. The debate flowed into a discussion of campaign disclosure rules, an issue especially relevant in light of challenges to the state elections board expanding disclosure regulations. A case on this matter is currently pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Center for Media and Democracy has submitted an amicus brief in favor of increased disclosure. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court favored disclosure in its Citizens United decision, right-leaning groups making expenditures in the 2010 midterm elections benefitted from secrecy, suggesting that disclosure considerations would be a right-left issue. However, when asked about disclosure, Prosser suggested he would favor it, stating "I want to know who is smearing me in that third-party ad!"
A second judge has castigated Wisconsin Republicans for excluding the public from the legislative process. Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi has issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Governor Walker's union-busting bill on grounds that the conference committee's rushed passage of the bill on March 9 likely violated state Open Meeting laws.