What a week it was in Wisconsin government.
The Dane County District Attorney, acting on numerous citizen complaints, sued to void the collective bargaining law passed in shotgun fashion by the Fitzgerald brothers and crew and rapidly signed by Governor Scott Walker.
A circuit judge temporarily blocked the Secretary of State from publishing the new law until the claim that it's voidable because the Open Meetings Law was violated is resolved in court. The state attorney general says a circuit judge can't do that and asked the Court of Appeals to intervene. That court then entreated the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case, noting both side appear to have made some plausible arguments. An expedited decision is expected on whether the state's high school will step in.
But that's not fast enough or sure enough for Scott Fitzgerald.
The Legislative Reference Bureau published the law online Friday in a surprise move, after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. But serious questions remain over whether the law went into effect Saturday — especially because Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who typically publishes laws, is barred from doing so by a restraining order.
Even the Reference Bureau says its move didn't put the law into effect. La Follette agrees. But Fitzgerald insists that the law is now law.
"I still do believe this will bring a conclusion," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, the legislation is in effect today."
Fitzgerald said he got the idea for the LRB to publish the law after reading a Wisconsin State Journal article earlier this month, which said laws don't take effect until one day after they are published with the LRB. Fitzgerald and his staff researched the statutes before meeting with Steve Miller, LRB director, on Friday morning to discuss the issue.
So what's wrong with this picture? Plenty.
Fitzgerald knew that the Wisconsin Supreme Court was poised to decided whether to take up the case challenging the bill's publication. That action could come "any day" yet Fitzgerald opted to attempt an "end run" around the judicial process.
Rather than shed light on a difficult situation, Fitagerald muddied the waters. Nobody really knows if the LRB's actions constitute lawful publication of a new law, something else the courts may need to sort out. Obviously Fitzgerald didn't make things any easier.
Like them or not, our courts exist for a reason -- to resolve legal disputes. That's what was in the works . when Fitzgerald jumped the gun and tried to do an end run around the judicial process. In so doing he thumbed his nose at our judicial process -- just another step in the "ends justify the means" mentality so prevalent in the Walker regieme.