MADISON, Wisconsin – A judge on Tuesday refused Republican Governor Scott Walker's attempt to avoid special elections for a pair of vacant seats in the legislature, but the democrats' victory could be short-lived. The Legislative Legislature is planning to vote on a legislative amendment next week. Walker would be banned this year to hold special elections.
Walker's attorney at the Department of Justice argued that there was no point in calling special elections, as the legislature planned to change the law to prevent it from being held. But Dane County District Judge Richard Niess said there's no way to know what the legislature is allowed to do, so Walker has to stick to his last week and give him the specials by Thursday.
"I do not know what the law could be in the future," said Niess. "I enforce the law as it is now Other arguments are for another day … When a bill becomes a law, it can be brought before a court, and at that time, arguments can be put forward about which ones Effect has the law. "
Walker has said that he will follow this order and call for elections on June 1
Department of Justice lawyers did not comment when they left the courtroom, whether they would go for an appeal from Niess' command. A department spokesman did not respond immediately to an e – mail comment.
Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer representing voters in search of special elections, said Walker risked disregarding the previous court order if he chose not to follow lawmakers changing the law next week. Elias argued that Walker was trying to find a "back door" to the previous ruling in order to "demonstrate" the effects of the change in law.
The hastily-heard hearing came after lawyers for the State Department of Justice filed a request on Monday to delay the deadline for Walker to make the special dial call from Thursday to April 6. That would give the legislation time to hand over the bill on April 4 as planned.
Both seats were held by Republicans who stepped on December 29 to join Walker's administration. Walker refused to hold special elections and said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money as Parliament's regular sitting for this year is over.
But the Democrats say he fears that the Democrats will win, especially after the party has won a victory in a special state Senate election in December.
Democratic Senate minority leader Jennifer Schilling said Walker had done his job and called the special elections earlier, "we would not be in that position where Wisconsin families must sue for their basic affairs constitutional right to representation."  Voters in the districts, who were represented by lawyers from a group under the jurisdiction of former Democratic US Attorney General Eric Holder, accused Walker of appealing for elections. They argued that they are disenfranchised because they have no legislators who deal with constituent concerns and do other work, in addition to the election in case the legislature returns for special sessions.
Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds, who was appointed by Walker, voted on the side of voters last week. Niess, who was appointed in 2004 by Democratic governor Jim Doyle, heard the case on Tuesday because Reynolds was on vacation.
The bill Walker and Republicans hurry through the legislature would remove the requirement in current law, which the governor will promptly designate as special elections when vacancies occur in the legislation. Instead, special elections would be prevented after the spring premiere in the years when the legislative seat would normally be filled. In the regular elections in November vacancies would be filled.
A Senate committee planned to hold a public hearing on Wednesday and vote in extraordinary session on April 4, the day after the Spring vote.
Republicans control Senate 18-14 and Assembly 63-35. The vacant seats in Wisconsin were held by Republican Senator Frank Lasee of De Pere and Rep. Keith Ripp of Lodi. The seat of the Senate covers the Door County Peninsula northeast of Green Bay and the seat of the Assembly is located in a predominantly rural area north of Madison.