Gavel Grab

Court-Stripping Bill Debated in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Supreme Court would be required to directly take up constitutional challenges to state laws and to rule within 150 days under the proposal of a leading Republican legislator. It has sparked controversy from critics who said it would interfere with impartial courts.

The bill drafted by Sen. Michael Ellis, the state Senate president and a Republican, would remove lower courts from these rulings. Ellis said his proposal would streamline the process to review these constitutional challenges.

Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl, a Democrat who belongs to the Assembly’s judiciary committee, protested what he called a power grab, according to an Associated Press article.  “Just because Republicans do not like the results of current litigation does not mean that we should change the rules of the game,” he said. “These are incredibly important decisions that should not be rushed by artificial timelines set by the Legislature.”

Democratic Sen. Fred Risser also was critical. “This bill is telling the Supreme Court what to do and how to do it,” he said. “It eliminates trials and contested cases. That violates, in my opinion, the judicial process all together.”

Wisconsin’s highest court currently has a conservative majority.

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