By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) â¿¿ Attorneys would be able to nullify court rulings blocking state laws by filing a quick appeal under a bill Republican legislators are circulating.
The bill comes after Dane County judges last year struck down portions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's signature law stripping most public workers of their collective bargaining rights and voided a GOP law mandating voters show photo identification at the polls. Opponents immediately decried the new bill as a Republican end-run around the legal system.
"When Republicans lose elections they want to change the rules about voting; when they lose in court they want to change the rules governing the courts," said Lester Pines, the attorney who brought the collective bargaining and voter ID challenges. "They would be better off making sure that they pass constitutional laws in the first place."
The bill's main author, Rep. David Craig, R-West Bend, denied the collective bargaining and voter ID decisions prompted the bill. A county judge elected by "a small fraction of the state" shouldn't be able to stop a law that affects the entire state, he said.
He also argued the bill would reduce confusion about whether a state law is in effect in the face of lawsuits challenging it. Confusion over whether the Dane County collective bargaining ruling applies statewide, for example, remains unresolved; Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is appealing both that ruling and the voter ID decision.
"For us to be able to conduct business in the state ... to know what the law is and what the law is not, there needs to be some type of stability," Craig said.
The GOP has long contended Dane County judges are too liberal. Republicans have been working to limit the judges' powers since the party took full control of state government in 2011.