Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's Department of Justice is attempting to appeal Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi's order blocking implementation of Governor's Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.
Specifically, according to the paperwork filed Monday, state lawyers say they are representing Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who is identified as the "petitioner" seeking to have the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Sumi lifted so that the law — which eliminates nearly all collective bargaining rights for public workers — can be published and implemented.
The "Petition for Leave to Appeal" filed by the Department of Justice lawyers concludes with the words "Secretary La Follette respectfully requests... an ex parte order granting temporary relief from the TRO entered by Judge Sumi on March 18, 2011..."
The state's lawyers argue that Judge Sumi's order impedes La Follette from doing his ministerial duty of publishing the bill by March 25, the last day of a 10-day period for publication allowed under the state constitution.
But the Department of Justice attorneys did not consult La Follette about whether he has any objection to Judge Sumi's order.
The secretary of state says he has not complained about the judge's order.
Indeed, he says, he has already acted in accordance with it, in a move that he says allows him to "fulfill the public trust in my office."
The secretary of state, who delayed publication of the law until March 25 because of his own concerns regarding the legal wrangling over the measure, as well as his desire to help local officials resolve questions and confusion regarding the sweeping measure, said in a statement that "Based on the Temporary Restraining Order entered on March 18, 2011, I have ordered 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 not be published until further notice. This means that the Act will not become law until the present legal issues surrounding the Act are resolved."
La Follette, the state's longest-serving state constitutional officer, adds that: "The circuit court that entered the Temporary Restraining Order has scheduled a March 29, 2011 hearing to determine whether the Wisconsin open meetings law was violated. I intend to fulfill the public trust in my office by abiding by the Temporary Restraining Order, by respecting the court's decision and by allowing the judicial process to reach a conclusion regarding 2011 Wisconsin Act 10."
La Follette said that as an elected state constitutional officer, it is his duty and responsibility to serve the people of the state and to respect the rule of law. "When I received 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, I decided to wait a full 10 business days before publishing the Act. This is the normal practice of the office. I noted that there were many unanswered questions regarding this Act and that that there were pending legal challenges and concern about possible violations of the Wisconsin open meetings law."
La Follettee concluded by encouraging all parties to "work together and talk to each other to come up with a solution to the current situation that serves the public trust in our institutions of government."