State Supreme Court OKs Private Attorneys for Redistricting

2 weeks ago 7

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Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a little tribunal bid that was preventing Republican legislators from hiring backstage attorneys successful beforehand of the adjacent circular of redistricting.

Justices besides agreed to perceive an expedited entreaty of the determination Dane County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Ehlke issued successful April when helium ruled that the Legislature can’t prosecute extracurricular lawyers until there’s a suit pending.

Thursday’s ruling does not impact immoderate existent redistricting plans, oregon immoderate lines connected a map. But it does mean — astatine slightest for the clip being — that Republicans tin prosecute backstage lawyers astatine payer disbursal to get acceptable for the contentious process that happens erstwhile each decade.

The contracts nether quality successful this lawsuit were signed by Republican leaders successful precocious December and aboriginal January.

One, which was signed with Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, called for paying the steadfast $30,000 per period for “pre-litigation counseling” starting successful January and up to $965,000 successful 2021.

The other, which was signed with Bell Giftos St. John LLC, called for paying the steadfast an hourly complaint of $375 per hour. The steadfast includes Kevin St. John, who was lawman lawyer wide nether erstwhile Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

A radical of plaintiffs represented by Madison lawyer Lester Pines sued, arguing the Legislature can’t prosecute the attorneys until there’s a redistricting lawsuit pending.

Ehlke agreed, and erstwhile Republicans asked him to “stay,” oregon temporarily halt his ruling pending appeal, helium declined. After Republicans appealed the lawsuit to Wisconsin’s District III Court of Appeals, Appeals Court Judge Lisa Stark besides declined to contented a stay. Later, a three-judge panel, including Stark, made a astir identical ruling.

That prompted Republicans to inquire the authorities Supreme Court to measurement in, and portion the tribunal has yet to determine the underlying merits of the case, conservative justices gave GOP leaders the ruling they’d hoped for.

The tribunal issued 2 orders Thursday. In one, which justices issued unanimously, the tribunal agreed to perceive the case. In the other, which was handed down by the court’s four-justice blimpish block, the tribunal stayed Judge Ehlke’s ruling and admonished him for making “errors of law.”

The court’s bulk wrote that Ehlke had failed to see that Republicans had “more than the specified possibility” of occurrence connected appeal. Conservatives also wrote that Ehlke failed to see the imaginable harm to legislators by denying them from hiring their attorneys of choice.

“If the circuit court’s injunction remains successful effect portion this entreaty is pending, the Legislature volition not beryllium permitted to person the assistance of lawyers who absorption connected the once-every-decade contented of redistricting during the abbreviated model of clip successful which the Legislature volition person the archetypal accidental (pursuant to the authorities constitution) to gully the required caller districts,” wrote the court’s conservatives.

That imaginable harm, blimpish justices wrote, outweighed the imaginable harm to taxpayers if they’re forced to wage for ineligible contracts that are yet ruled void.

The court’s 3 liberals dissented with Justice Rebecca Dallet, penning that it would person been “nonsensical” for Ehlke to person granted the enactment erstwhile helium had conscionable ruled against legislators. Dallet besides ridiculed the thought that Republican legislators were someway harmed by a ruling that delayed them from hiring backstage lawyers.

“Legislators connection nary statement oregon grounds for wherefore the unit attorneys astatine the Department of Justice, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Reference Bureau, and the Legislative Technology Services Bureau are incapable of providing ineligible proposal related to the redistricting rules and regulations,” Dallet wrote. “The bulk offers lone its ain baseless speculation that Wisconsin’s redistricting instrumentality is excessively ‘specialized and complex’ for Wisconsin’s nationalist attorneys to handle.”

While the Wisconsin Department of Justice is tally by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, Wisconsin’s Legislative Council, the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Legislative Technology Services Bureau are each nonpartisan agencies.

The court’s bulk laid retired a timeline for filing briefs successful the lawsuit that could instrumentality up to 2 months. By that time, elaborate U.S. Census information is scheduled to person been released and the redistricting process whitethorn person already begun successful earnest.

Conservative justices said they would acceptable a timeline for oral arguments successful this lawsuit “in owed course.”

Listen to the WPR study here.

SCOWIS: GOP Legislators Can Hire Private Attorneys Ahead Of Redistricting was primitively published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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