Wisconsin Supreme Court tosses AG Kaul's statute challenge

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 24 refused to consider Attorney General Josh Kaul's lawsuit challenging statutes Republican lawmakers passed during a 2018 lame-duck session limiting his powers.

The statutes require the state Department of Justice, which Kaul controls, to obtain permission from the Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee before settling certain lawsuits. The statues also weakened Gov. Tony Evers' powers.

Republicans passed the laws in December 2018, weeks before Kaul and Evers, both Democrats, were set to take office.

A coalition of labor unions challenged the statutes affecting Kaul in 2019. The Supreme Court upheld them in a July ruling but left the door open to future legal challenges.

Kaul filed his lawsuit in November, arguing the law is unconstitutional as applied to two categories of cases involving civil lawsuits over environmental and consumer protection cases and cases involving the executive branch. Kaul argued the law violates the separation of powers doctrine in those instances.

Kaul asked the justices to consider the case directly without allowing it to move through lower courts.

The Supreme Court issued an order denying Kaul's request to commence the case as an original action. The order offered no explanation.

Conservative justices hold a 4-3 majority on the court.

Kaul spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said the DOJ is reviewing the order.

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