High Court Backs Evers Over Walker
Evers can hire his own attorney in legal battle rather than AG Schimel, as Walker insisted.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that state Superintendent Tony Evers can choose his own lawyer to defend the Department of Public Instruction against a lawsuit by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
The dispute has taken on added significance this year because Evers is one of several Democrats vying to defeat Walker in the November election.
Justices who sided with Evers wrote that letting Schimel decide what’s best for DPI would give the Attorney General “breathtaking power.”
While Wednesday’s ruling means Evers will have every opportunity to defend himself, the case itself has yet to be decided.
WILL sued Evers late last year, arguing he was violating a new law that puts limits on the power of state agencies to write administrative rules, which are the fine details of laws.
The law requires agencies that write rules to present “scope statements” to the Department of Administration first. The DOA answers to Walker.
Evers contends the law infringes on his independence as a constitutional officer, pointing to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling just two years ago that found a similar law did not apply to DPI.
In Wednesday’s decision, Kelly and Justice Michael Gableman signed on to a dissent written by Justice Rebecca Bradley that attacked the court’s majority, saying its opinion “flatly disregards the text of our constitution and statutes.”
Bradley said the state constitution said nothing about giving the state Superintendent the power to hire legal counsel, and no state law gave him the power to hire his own lawyer or fire the DOJ.
“The majority creates a dangerous precedent,” Bradley wrote. “It brandishes its superintending authority like a veto over laws it does not wish to apply. In doing so, it thwarts the will of the people.”
A third liberal, Rebecca Dallet, will replace Gableman on the court on August 1.
All seven justices agreed on another issue, ruling that Walker need not be a party to the case.
Listen to the WPR story here.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Sides With Evers In Battle Over Attorney was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.