Category Archives: Law

Court Reinstates Appointees Who Were Illegally Ousted by Evers

Good.

The 4-3 order handed down on Tuesday by the court’s conservative majority wasn’t the final say in the lame-duck lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. But the court found that all of the former Gov. Scott Walker appointees – including those whose appointments that were rescinded by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers – can return to work while the appeal of the case proceeds.

“As we are only at the early stage of this appeal and in the context of a motion for temporary relief pending appeal, we express no position as to whether or not any of the Legislature’s arguments will ultimately prevail,” the court wrote. “We cannot say, however, that the Legislature’s arguments have ‘no likelihood of success on the merits,’ as the circuit court did.”

Supreme Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Firearms Classifieds Site

Good ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging a firearms website that enabled a man to illegally purchase the pistol he used in a mass shooting at a suburban Milwaukee spa six years ago is liable in the killings, ruling that federal law grants the site operators immunity.

The court ruled 5-1 that the federal Communications Decency Act protects Armslist LLC, a firearms classifieds website. The act absolves website operators of any liability resulting from posting third-party content.

Should the Names of Food Stamp Recipients be Public Information?

Interesting case.

The nation’s high court on Monday wrestled with whether government spending records from the nation’s largest food safety-net program are records that Congress intended to be released under a key federal transparency law.

Much of the argument in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Mediacentered on the meaning and intent of the word “confidential” and its use in the Freedom of Information Act, which Congress passed in 1966 to make government records available to the public.

The Food Marketing Institute, which represents grocers and other retailers, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue after a lower court ruled that spending records from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could be released to the public.

Justices appeared conflicted between upholding the spirit of the Freedom of Information Law and the desire to stick to the literal meaning of the word “confidential.”

“One of the aims of FOIA was to make information public despite official willingness,” Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.

But Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch noted that the word “confidential” was presumed to mean something different in another section of the FOIA law. “Why should we give the same word two different meanings?” he said.

I can see why it would be nice for recipients to have their names kept secret. They don’t want to be harassed or marketed to. Also, there might still be a scrap of shame associated with receiving welfare that people don’t want to be shamed. Frankly, I don’t think there is a societal stigma on receiving food stamps anymore… at least if the line at Woodman’s is any guide.

But I don’t see any overriding governmental interest that would require this information to be kept secret. They are receiving public money and the taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going. This information should be public.

Supreme Court Takes Up Challenges to Legislation

Good. And for the last time, there was nothing “lame-duck” about those laws.

MADISON – The state Supreme Court agreed Monday to quickly take up a lawsuit challenging lame-duck laws aimed at curbing the power of the state’s top Democrats.

The high court unanimously accepted the case before an appeals court finishes its work on the lawsuit, speeding up its final resolution.

The justices put the case on a fast track, agreeing to hear arguments May 15.

Other lawsuits are pending — one in state court and one in federal court — so the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case likely won’t be the last word on whether the lame-duck laws are valid.

Nevada’s Opaque process for Issuing Pot Licenses

This is a good reminder that the granting of licenses, permits, and other government permissions are, and have always been, a source of bribery and corruption. This is why we should have as little of it as possible, and where we do have it, the process and criteria should be completely transparent.

Nevada faces complaints about secrecy in awarding licenses to sell marijuana in the state’s booming legal marketplace, boiling over into lawsuits and legislation that appear poised to pry open the process.

Several companies have sued the state tax department, arguing that no one knows for sure the criteria officials use to award new licenses. They complain the state releases no information about who seeks and receives permission to sell cannabis to adults, many of them tourists, in the nearly 2-year-old market.

They will ask a judge Monday to freeze the granting of marijuana dispensary licenses, at least temporarily, until the courts decide whether it’s “arbitrary and capricious and violates the constitution,” one lawsuit says.

The hearing will focus on a second wave of dispensaries approved in December to open into an evolving regulatory environment where local lawmakers are considering allowing pot lounges on or near the Las Vegas Strip.

The companies say Nevada unconstitutionally picked winners and losers from 462 applicants for 61 new dispensary, cultivation, laboratory and production licenses.

“Licenses that admit a select few to such a lucrative enterprise must be made in a way that is open and transparent,” said attorney Vincent Savarese, who wrote the constitutional challenge on behalf of Serenity Wellness Center and 10 other companies that were turned away.

University Agrees to Discontinue Use of Race in Admissions

I’m sure they will still accept big checks from parents ;)

(CNN)The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine will not consider race or national origin as a factor in its admissions process, according to an agreement the school entered with the Department of Education in February.

The agreement concludes a 14-year-long investigation into the school’s use of affirmative action in its admissions process after someone who did not end up applying to the school filed a complaint with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights in 2004. The Department of Education’s office began the investigation in July 2005, according to department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill.
The agreement states that the school of medicine will stop considering race and/or national origin “as part of the holistic admissions process.” If the school decides to use race as a factor in the admissions process again, it must notify the Department of Education and provide a “reasoned, principled explanation” for why it plans to do so, according to the agreement.
The complainant said that the Texas Tech School of Medicine’s “expected use of race as one of many factors in the admissions process” was a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to a letter from the Department of Education obtained by CNN.
On a more serious note… 14 YEARS!?!? How is that kind of lethargy in our justice system providing justice for anyone?

Columbia County DA Closed Indefinately

Odd

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office is apparently closed indefinitely, and nobody’s saying why — not even to judges and county leaders.

On Monday morning, a sign affixed to the DA’s office public window on the first floor of the Columbia County Courthouse stated: “Office temporarily closed — no staff available. Please check back this afternoon — sorry for the inconvenience.”

At about 2 p.m. Monday, Assistant District Attorney Jordan Lippert told the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office officers who operate the security system at the courthouse’s entrance that pretrial conferences have been canceled.

Lippert declined to say anything on the record as to why the office is closed and when it might reopen.

“I have no comments,” he said.

[…]

It was not clear whether the closure is related to Friday’s unanimous decision by the County Board’s Human Resources Department, that an unnamed employee has filed a “credible” harassment complaint against at least one person in the DA’s office, also unnamed.

The committee’s decision, made after a protracted closed-session discussion Friday, is based on a letter the complaining employee submitted to Ruf in February. Ruf said he could not comment on the nature of the alleged harassment. The matter has been turned over to the County Board’s Judiciary Committee for further investigation; the Judiciary Committee oversees the operations of the DA’s office.

More Votes for Hagedorn in Official Canvas

Excellent.

Conservative Brian Hagedorn added to his narrow lead over rival Lisa Nuebauer in the state Supreme Court race after the first wave of county canvasses were completed, according to a WisPolitics.com tally.

And he’s likely to get another bump once Outagamie County finishes its canvass after it already discovered a reporting error due to the technical issues it had on the night of the election.

Hagedorn emerged from Election Day with a 5,960-vote leader over Neubauer. The tally shows Hagedorn has added 111 votes in the 24 counties that either posted final results on their websites or relayed the information following a request from WisPolitics.com.

[…]

Outagamie County has since posted updated unofficial nights that added 69 votes to Hagedorn’s margin. The AP numbers had Hagedorn at 19,206 and Neubauer at 15,419. The updated unofficial numbers pushed Hagedorn to 19,662 and Neubauer to 15,766.

Appeals Court Stays Niess Ruling

As expected.

Parts of laws the GOP-controlled Legislature adopted curtailing executive branch powers are back in place after a state appeals court Wednesday temporarily suspended a ruling that struck them down.

The new ruling intensified the disarray in state government created by the passage of — and subsequent legal fight over — the laws, passed in a December lame-duck session just before Evers took office.

The ruling, issued Wednesday by a three-judge panel of the state District III Court of Appeals, temporarily stayed a ruling issued last week by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and GOP lawmakers sparred Wednesday about who is at fault for the chaos. They also clashed over the status of 82 state government appointments made by former Gov. Scott Walker, which Evers rescinded after last week’s ruling.

Evers’ office contended the appointments, which include a University of Wisconsin System Regent and a Public Service Commissioner, remain vacant. But an attorney for Republican lawmakers said the Walker appointees are back in their jobs. The court did not weigh in on that question.

The thumb on the scales

Here is my full column from the Washington County Daily News

If there was any doubt as to the importance of the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, the outrageous ruling by rogue Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess should vanquish it. The leftists have shown that they are willing to use the power of the judicial branch to advance their radical agenda without scruples or remorse. Against such an onslaught, a Supreme Court comprised of strict constitutionalists serves as the last bastion against the judicial usurpation of our representative government.

In the waning days of the last legislative session, the Legislature passed a series of laws to shore up their gains of the previous eight years before the Democrats assumed control of the executive branch. In a clear violation of the separation of powers principle and a gross overreach of judicial authority, a single, lowly Dane County judge ruled that the entire extraordinary season was unconstitutional, and thus, all of the laws duly passed during the session are unconstitutional. In his ruling, Judge Niess ignored the clear wording of the Constitution, the statutes, and decades of legislative practice by both major political parties. Judge Niess’ ruling was not based on law. It was based on advancing a liberal political outcome.

If you wondered what that outcome was, Democrats Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul quickly confirmed it as they moved swiftly after the ruling to withdraw the state from the federal Obamacare lawsuit and begin the process of replacing the 82 people appointed by Gov. Scott Walker who were confirmed in that session.

The ruling is such an egregious overreach that if it holds, it would invalidate hundreds of laws passed over the past several decades. The Legislature has been meeting in extraordinary seasons for years, as is their prerogative, to pass legislation. The most recent extraordinary session was to listen to Governor Evers’ budget address. But before that, taxpayer funding for Fiserv Forum, redistricting, campaign finance laws, government funding laws, and much more have been passed in extraordinary sessions.

In all, the Legislature has held over two dozen extraordinary sessions over the previous two generations for the purpose of passing laws supported by both Democrats and Republicans. If extraordinary sessions are themselves unconstitutional, as Judge Niess’ preposterous partisan ruling states, then all of those laws would be unconstitutional.

Thankfully, Dane County Judge Niess’ ruling will likely be stayed by an appeals court this week before being completely overturned. If Dane County voters have any fidelity to the rule of law, Niess will be run off the bench for his blatant abuse of power. He is a disgrace.

The judicial system is designed to correct for rogue and incompetent judges by allowing bad decisions to be appealed through multiple higher courts. But if the same rabid partisanship that infects Judge Niess is permitted to spread to the Supreme Court, the Legislature and governor will be relegated to merely being entertaining political theater because the austere tyrants in black robes will make all of the real decisions.

Judge Niess, Governor Evers, and Attorney General Kaul tipped their hands to how they will neuter the power of the Republican-led Legislature if the radical leftists take control of the state Supreme Court. They will follow the path of the leftist horde after Governor Walker was elected. They will get a fellow traveler on the Dane County bench to rule laws they do not like as unconstitutional, and then act by judicial and executive fiat. Except this time, instead of the Supreme Court overturning bad rulings and showing deference to the Constitution and the tenets of representative government, a leftist-dominated court will set the leftist agenda into stone.

On April 2, or anytime this week via early voting, it is critically important that Wisconsin elect Judge Brian Hagedorn to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He has demonstrated the appropriate humility, firm adherence to the Constitution, and deference to representative government necessary to protect the individual rights of Wisconsinites. If the Supreme Court is to remain a bulwark for individual liberty and representative government, we need to elect justices like Brian Hagedorn who believe in those principles.

Liberal Neubauer Ruled on 101 Cases Involving Husband’s Clients

Yikes.

Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer, the liberal candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, says she supports an independent and impartial judiciary, but she sat in judgement on cases concerning clients of her husband’s cleaning business.

WISN-AM radio personality Dan O’Donnell reported Monday that an analysis of Neubauer’s statements of economic interest shows the judge hearing 101 cases involving her husband’s former business clients. O’Donnell reported:

In 73 cases, Judge Neubauer sat on a case involving a public sector client (such as a municipality like the City of Kenosha or an executive department of state government such as the Department of Veterans Affairs). In 28 cases, she sat on cases involving private sector clients including Associated Bank, Froedtert Hospital, Abbot Labs, Walgreen Co., and Best Buy.

In 79 of those 101 total cases, Neubauer joined the majority in ruling in favor of a Kranz client. In 31 of those rulings, Neubauer herself wrote the majority opinion.

O’Donnell wrote that it was unclear whether Neubauer’s husband Jeffrey Neubauer had an “economic interest” in the cases because the judge stopped disclosing her husband’s clients from 2010 until the business was sold in 2017. The clients in question were on the judge’s 2009 financial disclosure statement.

SCOTUS Justices Question Judicial Overreach into Redicsticting

You could easily go broke betting on SCOTUS rulings, but this was a positive line of questioning.

At issue is when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain, and it could be one of the most consequential cases of the court’s term. The justices could, for the first time, establish a standard to decide when politicians go too far in drawing lines for partisan gain, or the court could slam the doors shut on such claims of extreme gerrymandering.
Chief Justice John Roberts suggested at one point that it would be hard for the court to police the use of partisanship in map drawing, when the process is intrinsically political. Justice Samuel Alito emerged as the most vocal critic of the court’s involvement, often picking apart the manageability of tests that were presented to the court and worrying that every single dispute in the future would have to be resolved by the judiciary.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh — whose vote could be key — said he would not “dispute” that extreme partisan gerrymandering has become a problem that was especially evident in a map drawn in his home state of Maryland. But he also questioned if the courts should stay out of the issue because states are reacting with their own initiatives.
It was a sentiment shared by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who said states have “provided remedies in this area.”

Justice Department Believes All of Obamacare is Unconstitutional

I disagree. Some of Obamacare is atrocious policy, but not unconstitutional. However, the Obamacare law does not have a severability clause, so the whole thing could be thrown out if even one part is unconstitutional.

The Trump administration now believes that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down, a major shift in the federal government’s position and one that could endanger health coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

In a letter on Monday night, the justice department said it is now backing a Texas judge’s controversial December ruling that the healthcare law known as Obamacare is unconstitutional.

Throwing out the law would end healthcare coverage for millions of people – getting rid of publicly subsidized health insurance plans sold on exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and rules letting children stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” wrote Joseph Hunt, the assistant attorney general, and other lawyers in the new court filing.

Until this week, the government’s position was that only part of the law – like its rules prohibiting insurance companies from denying health insurance or charging more to people with pre-existing conditions – should be struck down.

Charges Dropped Against Smollett

Once again, money and power triumph over justice.

Cook County State’s Attorney has dropped the charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

Here’s what prosecutors said in a statement:

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

So if I volunteer a bit and agree to pay the city a bunch of money, they will drop charges against me? How many other crooks get this kind of pass?

Chicago is being what Chicago is.

The thumb on the scales

My column for the Washington County Daily News is in print and on line. Here’re the highlights, but be sure to pick up a copy to read the whole thing!

If there was any doubt as to the importance of the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court election, the outrageous ruling by rogue Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess should vanquish it. The leftists have shown that they are willing to use the power of the judicial branch to advance their radical agenda without scruples or remorse. Against such an onslaught, a Supreme Court comprised of strict constitutionalists serves as the last bastion against the judicial usurpation of our representative government.

[…]

Judge Niess’ ruling was not based on law. It was based on advancing a liberal political outcome.

If you wondered what that outcome was, DemocratsGov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul quickly confirmed it as they moved swiftly after the ruling to withdraw the state from the federal Obamacare lawsuit and begin the process of replacing the 82 people appointed by Gov. Scott Walker who were confirmed in that session.

[…]

Thankfully, Dane County Judge Niess’ ruling will likely be stayed by an appeals court this week before being completely overturned. If Dane County voters have any fidelity to the rule of law, Niess will be run off the bench for his blatant abuse of power. He is a disgrace.

The judicial system is designed to correct for rogue and incompetent judges by allowing bad decisions to be appealed through multiple higher courts. But if the same rabid partisanship that infects Judge Niess is permitted to spread to the Supreme Court, the Legislature and governor will be relegated to merely being entertaining political theater because the austere tyrants in black robes will make all of the real decisions.

Judge Niess, Governor Evers, and Attorney General Kaul tipped their hands to how they will neuter the power of the Republican-led Legislature if the radical leftists take control of the state Supreme Court. They will follow the path of the leftist horde after Governor Walker was elected. They will get a fellow traveler on the Dane County bench to rule laws they do not like as unconstitutional, and then act by judicial and executive fiat. Except this time, instead of the Supreme Court overturning bad rulings and showing deference to the Constitution and the tenets of representative government, a leftist-dominated court will set the leftist agenda into stone.

On April 2, or anytime this week via early voting, it is critically important that Wisconsin elect Judge Brian Hagedorn to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He has demonstrated the appropriate humility, firm adherence to the Constitution, and deference to representative government necessary to protect the individual rights of Wisconsinites. If the Supreme Court is to remain a bulwark for individual liberty and representative government, we need to elect justices like Brian Hagedorn who believe in those principles.

Bump Stocks Made Illegal

This is clearly unconstitutional. Irrespective of your opinion about bump stocks, the 5th Amendment specifically prohibits the government from seizing private property without due process of law and just compensation. This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about the 5th.

The bump stock — the attachment used by the killer during the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to make his weapons fire rapidly like machine guns — will become illegal on Tuesday in the only major gun restriction imposed by the federal government in the past few years, a period that has seen massacres in places like Las Vegas; Thousand Oaks, California; Sutherland Springs, Texas; and Orlando and Parkland, Florida.

Unlike with the decade-long assault weapons ban, the government isn’t allowing existing owners to keep their bump stocks. They must be destroyed or turned over to authorities. And the government isn’t offering any compensation for the devices, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Violators can face up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Dane County Judge Blocks Legislation

If there is anything that should get conservatives off of their collective asses to vote for Hagedorn for Supreme Court, one would hope this would be it.

MADISON – A Dane County judge on Thursday blocked a series of laws that limited the powers of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Within hours, Evers and Kaul used the decision to try to get Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act that their Republican predecessors joined. Until the judge’s ruling, Republican lawmakers were able to prevent them from doing that.

This ruling will be overturned… eventually. If the Appeals Court doesn’t do it, the Supreme Court will. We saw this exact pattern over and over again after Walker assumed office. Law passes. Liberals sue. Dane County judge rules against law. Appeals Court or Supreme Court overturns Dane County Judge.

That is, of course, assuming that the activist liberal judges don’t take over the Supreme Court. If that happens, then you will see a series of lawsuits where concealed carry, right to work, etc. are all thrown out by an activist Supreme Court. And if you think that Attorney General Josh Kaul will defend Wisconsin’s laws, think again. Look at what he just did. Liberals are perfectly happy ruling by judicial fiat.

Vote for Hagedorn.

Legislature to Defend Life

Excellent.

The GOP-controlled Legislature is seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion laws because Republican lawmakers don’t have confidence Attorney General Josh Kaul will defend the laws adequately.

The intervention, which is pending a committee vote, reflects a broader strategy Republicans are taking to circumvent a Democratic attorney general they distrust to defend the state’s laws faithfully. Kaul in a court filing in February said the Department of Justice would represent the state in the lawsuit, and his spokeswoman previously signaled he would defend state law.

Republican lawmakers have already said they plan to participate in other contentious cases challenging the state’s political maps and the state’s lame-duck laws curbing some of the governor’s and attorney general’s powers.

Kaul has already made it abundantly clear that his liberal activism will trump (pardon the pun) his duties to defend properly passed Wisconsin laws. This way, we at least know that Wisconsin’s laws will get a robust defense. And if Kaul surprises us and offers that muscular defense, then it’s no harm done, right?

School Choice Under Assault

In Evers’ budget proposal and on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Vote for Brian Hagedorn.

Wisconsin’s very successful and popular school voucher programs are currently under assault by Democratic Governor Tony Evers who last week called for a freeze in the voucher program. For now, the legislature – led by Republican leadership – will stand firm against Evers.

But, depending on the outcome of the upcoming elections, school choice could face a much bigger threat – the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Wisconsin has an incredibly successful school voucher program; around 40,000 low-income, predominantly minority students use a school voucher to attend a private school of their choosing. In Milwaukee, 84 percent of private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are identified as religious. Many of those schools are incredibly successful, and according to a study, Catholic and Lutheran choice schools outperform traditional Milwaukee Public Schools on the state mandated math and reading tests. Religious education works in Milwaukee for many low-income students.

But, liberal judges and attorneys, for decades, have argued that school vouchers are unconstitutional and a violation of the Establishment Clause, which, in short, prohibits government from “respecting an establishment of religion.” This includes Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson who previously dissented in cases about the constitutionality of vouchers on those grounds.

So, given how Judge Lisa Neubauer has embraced the legacy and ideology of Abrahamson, voters deserve to know whether Neubauer believes the school voucher program is unconstitutional and should be ended for religious private schools.

DPI Ordered to Release Open Records

This is the cultural norm in Wisconsin’s government education establishment. Delay, deflect, deny.

According to the lawsuit, WILL first requested three sets of ESSA-related records in August 2018, then sent a follow-up email the following month. A DPI employee said the request was in progress on Sept. 21, 2018.

WILL deputy counsel Thomas Kamenick followed up again on Nov. 12, and the request was partially fulfilled the following day. Portions of the request were denied for being “insufficiently specific” and “unreasonably burdensome,” and WILL send a narrowed request the following month, which DPI acknowledged on Dec. 13.

The most recent update from DPI, according to the lawsuit, was on Jan. 4, to notify WILL that the request was being worked on as a “priority,” but had been delayed due to the holidays and the election.