Saturday, March 26, 2011


When the teabaggers told us for two years that Barack Obama was an evil dictatorial fascist seeking to destroy our democracy and take away our freedom, we probably should have guessed that they were saying this because riding roughshod over democracy is what they would be doing if they got to wield power during an economic crisis that seemed to demand drastic measures. We also might have figured out that that's what they meant when they kept saying "We're going to take our country back" -- they meant take it back from the minority of voters they defeated in the election despite any laws on the books that constrained them from taking some aspects of it. They said Obama was engaging in an illegal power grab because that's what they had in mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the lawless state of Wisconsin:

In a stunning twist, Gov. Scott Walker's legislation limiting collective bargaining for public workers was published Friday despite a judge's hold on the measure, prompting a dispute over whether it takes effect Saturday.

The measure was published to the Legislature's website with a footnote that acknowledges the restraining order by a Dane County judge....

The restraining order was issued against Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette. But the bill was published by the reference bureau, which was not named in the restraining order....

It hasn't been printed in the Wisconsin State Journal, the official state newspaper, as other laws are. Late Friday, State Journal publisher Bill Johnston said in an e-mail that the notice for the law had been scheduled to run but had been canceled. He did not elaborate.

La Follette urged caution Friday, saying the measure has not been published yet by his office. He said he believes the law cannot go into effect until he directs the State Journal to publish it, which he has not done.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said it didn't matter that it hasn't appeared in the paper.

"It's published," Fitzgerald said. "It's law. That's what I contend."...

This is the point at which I'm supposed to say, "I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure what this really means." Well, I'm not a lawyer -- but it seems crystal clear to me that the judge in this case said this can't become a law -- period. It has to be published by the secretary of state, but because its passage violated the state's open meetings law, she ruled that the secretary of state can't publish it and it can't go into effect:

In her March 18 decision, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi Follette from publishing the issued the restraining order to prevent La law. But she also made a blanket statement that she was blocking the further implementation of the law.

"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," she said....

Am I lawyer? No, but I read and speak English. There's no ambiguity here. This is an illegal act. This is a defiance of the courts.

The Republicans did this last night and now say the law goes into effect today. So what happens next? Well, this goes back to the courts -- but I'm not sure how much good that will do:

Late Friday, [Dane County District Attorney Ismael] Ozanne sought a new temporary restraining order in the case, but Duty Judge Sarah O'Brien declined to set a hearing, noting one was already scheduled for Tuesday.

So I don't see what prevents these above-the-law Republicans from doing everything they can possibly do between now and Tuesday to implement provisions of this law in such a way that it will be next to impossible to un-implement them, assuming the courts rule against them again.

Gosh, I can't wait till we have a Republican president, so we can watch this happen on a national level -- a full frontal assault on a century of laws protecting ordinary citizens from robber-baron-ocracy.

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