A Wisconsin judge issued an order Thursday putting on hold a set of laws that Republicans passed late last year to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor.
The ruling is the latest step in a legal saga that has unfolded since Democratic Gov. Tony Evers defeated then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in last year’s gubernatorial election. In one of his final acts in office, Walker signed legislation passed by the GOP-held legislature to weaken the state’s executive branch and reduce the number of early voting days.
Thursday’s temporary injunction from state Judge Richard Niess blocks the laws as litigation moves forward from a coalition of liberal-leaning groups. The clerk’s office said midday Thursday that there was no scheduled future court date for the case at this time.
Evers hailed the move via Twitter, calling it a “ruling for the people of Wisconsin.”
“The Legislature overplayed its hand by using an unlawful process to accumulate more power for itself and override the will of the people, despite the outcome of last November’s election,” Evers said.
Jeffrey Mandell, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs challenging the laws, praised the temporary win for their side as a product of “careful, thorough analysis.” Meanwhile, state Republican leadership vowed in a statement to appeal the ruling.
The case challenged the authority of the legislature to convene an “extraordinary session” to pass the legislation in the lame duck period, but GOP Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the state GOP Senate leader, said in a joint statement after Thursday’s decision that the session was in line with state legislative authority.
“For decades the Legislature has used extraordinary sessions that have been widely supported by members of both parties,” the GOP statement read. “The most recent extraordinary session was held for Governor Evers’ Budget Address. Today’s ruling only creates chaos and will surely raise questions about items passed during previous extraordinary sessions, including stronger laws against child sexual predators and drunk drivers. We will appeal this ruling.”
Mandell, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the judge in Thursday’s ruling found the legislature’s argument in defense of its extraordinary session was “meritless.”
“Because the December 2018 Extraordinary Session was unlawful, today’s result was necessary and appropriate,” Mandell told CNN via email.
Evers protested the lame-duck moves as they were underway, accusing “power-hungry politicians” of attempting to “override the will of the people of Wisconsin.”
For their part, Republicans defended the decision to curb the power of Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, with Vos predicting that Evers would “enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.”
CNN’s Kara Devlin and Marlena Baldacci contributed to this report.