Josh Kaul indicates he won’t represent state in latest lame duck lawsuit

February 5, 2019

Attorney General Josh Kaul Tuesday indicated the Department of Justice won’t defend the state against the most recent lawsuit challenging the GOP’s lame-duck law.

Kaul, speaking to reporters, didn’t directly say he wouldn’t defend the state against the suit brought Monday by several unions. But he referenced a similar suit brought by the League of Women Voters in which he declined to represent the state due to perceived conflict.

“Wisconsin Department of Justice has a substantial interest in that case because the authority of (DOJ) was impacted. We view that as a conflict with defending the law,” Kaul said of the LWV case.

Wisconsin’s lame-duck law, which Republican legislators swiftly passed and former Gov. Scott Walker signed in December, stripped some of the powers of the governor and attorney general.

The law has faced several legal challenges, most recently from a group of unions contending it violates the state constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches.

That lawsuit is the fourth challenge to the lame duck law, meaning taxpayers will likely continue to pay more to defend it in court. Kaul declined to represent the state in the LWV case, prompting Gov. Tony Evers to spend as much as $50,000 to hire private attorneys to represent him in the suit.

Evers, a Democrat, opposes the law, but he is named as a defendant because he is now the governor.

Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders have retained Misha Tseytlin, the state’s former solicitor general, as their attorney in the case.

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