In her ruling Friday, Judge Sumi appeared to endorse Ozanne's complaint. “It seems to me the public policy behind effective enforcement of the open meeting law is so strong that it does outweigh the interest, at least at this time … of sustaining the validity of the [bill],” she said.
The ruling was criticized by the state’s attorney general’s office, which said it would appeal the ruling to a higher court. Assistant Attorney General Steven Means told Wisconsin Politics, an online media outlet that covers state politics: “The reason they have appellate courts is because circuit court judges make errors, and that happened in this case.”
In a statement, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said previous decisions by the Wisconsin Supreme Court “made it clear that judges may not enjoin” a bill from being published that was already signed into law – even when a claim says a law “as important as the open meeting law has been violated.”
The matter of jurisdiction is likely to become an issue. The attorney general’s claims that the county does not have jurisdiction are “very debatable,” says Dennis Dresang, a political scientist at University of Wisconsin in Madison.
The attorney general will try to get an appeals court to temporarily lift the injunction so the bill will become law, but that will likely prove impossible considering they will need to prove that pausing the bill from becoming law immediately will cause harm, Mr. Dresang says. He contends the opposite is true: By rushing the bill into law, state legislators harmed local governments and school districts that may have been in the midst of negotiating with their respective unions in an attempt to lock in contract obligations for the next two years.