Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Special Interests Battle on High Court Case

Koch and WMC filings push Supreme Court to stop Evers state shutdown, liberal groups disagree.

By - May 5th, 2020 01:08 pm
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Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Dave Reid.

Wisconsin Supreme Court. Photo by Dave Reid.

Dozens of special interests ranging from health care to business groups have filed documents supporting or opposing a GOP lawsuit to ditch Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order.

Among them are a handful of organizations that have spent big money on electioneering activities to support or oppose the seven justices elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The high court is expected to rule soon on whether to consider the lawsuit and a temporary injunction against the stay-at-home order.

Currently, the court is controlled by a 5-2 conservative bloc that has ruled against Evers in suits brought against him as governor and as the former state school superintendent. The coronavirus pandemic has spurred stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in Wisconsin and throughout the country that have come under increasing resistance in recent weeks by Republicans and conservatives.

Here are some of the groups weighing in on the lawsuit to nullify Evers stay-at-home order after he extended it to May 26 and how much they spent to support or oppose the current justices.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization, has spent more than $3.8 million to support Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, Justice Annette Ziegler, and Justice Daniel Kelly, who are three of the court’s five conservatives. WMC also spent an additional $1.2 million to support candidate Michael Screnock, who was defeated in 2018 for an open seat on the court by Justice Rebecca F. Dallet, who is one of the court’s two liberals;

Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that backs conservative and Republican candidates and causes throughout the country, has spent about $771,200 to support the elections of Kelly and Hagedorn and another $12,700 to back Screnock’s failed bid over Dallet;

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents health care, home care, nursing home, public service and building service workers in Wisconsin, has spent about $573,850 against Hagedorn and Kelly. In addition, an SEIU PAC contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, who is one of the court’s two liberals;

Madison Teachers Inc., which represents Madison public school teachers, has spent about $25,400 to support opponents of Roggensack and Ziegler. In addition, the union has contributed $26,625 to the campaigns of Ann Walsh Bradley and Dallet;

Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, and its regional PACs have contributed $40,625 to the campaigns of Ann Walsh Bradley and Dallet. In addition the union spent about $7,000 on outside electioneering against Roggensack;

Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which is a coalition of labor, environment, and senior citizen groups, among others, spent about $28,750 to support candidate Jill Karofsky, who defeated Kelly in last month’s spring election. She’ll take Kelly’s place on the high court in August;

American Federation of Teachers, which represents educators and school-related personnel, has made $20,625 in PAC contributions to Ann Walsh Bradley and Dallet.

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