Federal Extraordinary Session Case Dismissed

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin recently dismissed DPW v. Vos, the federal case challenging the 2018 extraordinary session laws. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) had filed a complaint in February seeking to declare the extraordinary session legislation in violation of the U.S. Constitution. DPW alleged that the legislation violates the plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth amendment rights, as well as the Guarantee Clause (a clause assuring States shall have a republican form of government).

The district court opinion states that it is not federal courts’ role to intervene in how states allocate power among their branches of government. Any remedy to the plaintiffs’ alleged harms would have to occur in state courts. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this summer in League of Women Voters v. Evers that the Legislature’s extraordinary session was held constitutionally. The state Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this month in SEIU v. Vos, which will litigate the policies contained in the legislation passed during the extraordinary session.

The district court further held that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they had not identified any concrete harms from the extraordinary session laws. The district court cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin redistricting case, holding that plaintiffs must have “concrete and particularized” injuries and that voters do not have legally protected interests in advancing particular policies. The court found that the extraordinary session laws did not prohibit or require any actions by the plaintiffs. Instead, the laws were directed at the governor and attorney general, so plaintiffs had no standing to file the lawsuit.

Read more about this and other extraordinary session litigation at /extraordinary-session-litigation-update/.