|Conservative justices who control the Wisconsin Supreme Court attacked liberal groups' claims Wednesday that Republican legislators met illegally when they passed laws limiting Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' and Attorney General Josh Kaul's powers during a lame-duck session last year, saying the Legislature can decide when it wants to meet.
That lame-duck session led to multiple legal challenges, including one by a coalition of liberal groups led by the League of Women Voters.
The coalition contends that the lame-duck session was illegal because the Legislature convened the vote as a so-called extraordinary session. Such sessions are previously unscheduled floor votes initiated by majority party leaders. The coalition maintains that the Wisconsin Constitution allows lawmakers to convene only at times laid out in a resolution they pass at the beginning of every two-year period or at the governor's call.
Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess agreed in March and invalidated all the laws passed during the lame-duck session. Republican lawmakers asked the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling.
The justices held oral arguments in the case Wednesday morning. The Republicans' attorney, Misha Tseytlin, began the proceeding by arguing that the Legislature can convene whenever it wishes.
The coalition's attorney, Jeffrey Mandell, argued that state law doesn't provide for extraordinary sessions. Justice Rebecca Bradley immediately cut him off, saying the Legislature has been meeting in extraordinary sessions for 40 years and no one has ever argued they were illegal. Mandell responded that sometimes it takes a "catalyzing event" to trigger a challenge.