Nearly two weeks ago, Wisconsin state Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting Wisconsin’s Secretary of State from “publishing” Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) anti-union law. Because Wisconsin law requires the Secretary of State’s office to publish a law before the law may take effect, this TRO should have suspended the law for as long as Sumi’s order remains in effect. Nevertheless, the state’s Republican leadership asked a different government office to publish the law on its website, and the Walker Administration has already begun to implement the law in defiance of Sumi’s original order.
This morning, Judge Sumi issued a new order clarifying that any attempt to implement Walker’s assault on working families is lawless:
[I]t is hereby DECLARED that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published…and is therefore not in effect.
In a third order, issued two days ago, Judge Sumi threatened sanctions against officials who act in defiance of her court orders. Under Wisconsin law, someone who intentionally defies a court order is in contempt of court, and can be fined up to $2,000 for each day that they disobey the court or imprisoned for up to six months.
One interesting twist in this entire debacle is that the sole basis of Sumi’s orders is a claim that Wisconsin Republicans violated the state’s open meetings law by passing the order without proper notice. Accordingly, Gov. Walker’s anti-union allies could eliminate this legal barrier simply by voting on the law again after providing the legally required notice. The fact that they have not yet done so suggests that they many no longer have the votes to ram Walker’s massively unpopular legislation through the legislature.
The AP reports that “Two Walker administration officials who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the governor hadn’t publicly announced his plans said he would announce later Thursday that he would comply with Sumi’s ruling.”