Republican lawmakers and former GOP Gov. Scott Walker enacted a set of laws in December aimed at curtailing the power of newly elected Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The "lame-duck" laws are being challenged legally by several groups, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday. Here's a look at how the story has developed over time.
The court's eventual ruling in the case, which takes issue with how GOP legislators convened in December to pass the controversial legislation, will have significant implications for the balance of power in state government.
The state's highest court in a split decision opted to take up the appeal of the case voluntarily, without a motion from any of the parties involved, a relatively rare move.
The court granted the plaintiffs' request to circumvent the state Court of Appeals and set up a swift timeline scheduling oral arguments in one month.
The ruling, coming at the end of a chaotic day featuring discord between Evers and GOP leaders, was a minor setback for Republicans in a broader legal battle bound for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
While most of those Gov. Scott Walker appointees would be able to resume their roles, 15 positions, including some higher-profile appointees, remain in limbo, including UW System Regent Scott Beightol and Ellen Nowak, who served as commissioner of the Public Service Commission. Evers did not include those positions on the list of re-appointments.
One of former Gov. Scott Walker's appointees tried to return to her job Thursday after a state appellate court stayed a court ruling invalidating her appointment and dozens — only to be turned away at the door.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and GOP lawmakers sparred Wednesday about who is at fault for the chaos and clashed over the status of 82 state government appointments made by former Gov. Scott Walker.
The second lawsuit contends the laws violate the state constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.
In the request filed Friday morning, Misha Tseytlin, an attorney for GOP lawmakers, argued the "indefensible injunction" issued by a Dane County judge Thursday "is already causing serious harm to our state."
Republican legislative leaders promised to swiftly appeal the ruling by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess.
Judge Richard Niess' heard more than two hours of oral arguments between the parties on whether the Legislature acted within its authority when it passed laws curtailing the governor's and attorney general's authority.
The intervention, which is pending a committee vote, reflects a broader strategy Republican lawmakers are taking to circumvent a Democratic attorney general they distrust to defend the state's laws faithfully.
Evers' attorneys said he supports a request by a group of unions in one of the other legal challenges to the GOP laws, asking a judge to block parts of them from taking effect.
Kaul's statement comes as a coalition of 16 states, including neighboring Illinois and Minnesota, announced Monday they would challenge Trump in court over his plan to call a national emergency to secure billions of dollars for a border barrier.
In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Kaul rejected the notion he would take any action to prevent the success of the multi-state suit, such as refusing to cooperate with other involved states.
Kaul, speaking to reporters, didn't directly say he wouldn't defend the state against the suit brought Monday by several unions. But he referenced a similar suit brought by the League of Women Voters in which he declined to represent the state due to perceived conflict.
Unions bringing the suit are Service Employees International Union, Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers, American Federation of Teachers and Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.
Evers will spend as much as $50,000 to hire private attorneys to represent him in the lawsuit, brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups.
"In my worldview, and I know that's not everyone's worldview, there's nothing inconsistent with what I said and what's actually going to happen," Evers said.
The Department of Justice made a formal request to withdraw the state from the ACA suit, which the Legislature is now considering.
A nonpartisan state agency lawyer's memo stated there is no legal way for the new governor to fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw the state from the suit.
U.S. District Judge James Peterson said that parts of the lame duck legislation passed by the Legislature in December and signed by Gov. Scott Walker violate a court order he issued in 2016.
Gov. Scott Walker signed all three sweeping lame-duck bills into law in Green Bay on Friday, concluding a last-ditch effort by GOP legislators to roll back some of the next governor's authority.
The vote was 17-16, with Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Allouez, the lone GOP "no" vote. The bill now heads to the state Assembly.
The Republican Legislature passed the bills limiting the powers of the governor and attorney general after an all-night session.
Assembly Republicans are considering a slew of other changes to elections, taxes, transportation funding and health care protections for its lame-duck session.