Judge declines to put redistricting ruling on hold

May 10, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge on Monday refused to put on hold his ruling last month that Republican leaders of the Wisconsin Legislature illegally hired private taxpayer-funded attorneys to represent them in anticipation of legal challenges over redistricting.

Republicans wanted to put the ruling on hold while they pursue an appeal so the contracts they entered into with the attorneys would not be immediately voided. Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke, in a ruling from the bench, declined to stay his order. Republicans were expected to appeal that to the state court of appeals.

Four Madison teachers, including the current and incoming teachers union president, brought the lawsuit arguing that state law does not allow for legislative leaders to hire attorneys outside the state Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. The Legislature has yet to begin the redistricting process.

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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu entered into contracts in December and January with two outside law firms to handle the redistricting process, including any future lawsuits. The contracts allowed for spending of more than $1 million in taxpayer money to the two law firms.

Ehlke’s April 29 ruling voided those contracts and barred any future payments.