(Reuters) – A coalition of left-leaning Wisconsin groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to throw out several laws passed by the Republican-led legislature following the November election that weakened the powers of the newly elected Democratic governor.
The groups, including the state chapter of the League of Women Voters and other civil rights organizations, said the unusual lame-duck session was illegally convened, which would make any legislation approved during the session unlawful.
Outgoing Republican Governor Scott Walker signed the bills into law in mid-December, despite criticism from Democrats that the efforts were a last-minute power grab before Democrat Tony Evers, who defeated Walker, took office this month.
Republicans defended the moves, and similar maneuvers in Michigan and North Carolina, as good-faith efforts to ensure the legislative and executive branches remain equals and to improve state policies.
The two Republican leaders of Wisconsin’s legislature, Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The legislation would give lawmakers, rather than the executive branch, the power to decide whether to withdraw the state from lawsuits. That measure is aimed at preventing Evers from following through on campaign promises to end Wisconsin’s challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
The lawsuit was filed in state court in Madison, the state capital. While it aims to help Evers, he is named as a defendant since he is the current occupant of the governor’s office. The suit notes that Evers’ predecessor, Walker, was responsible for the relevant actions.
Republicans, who continue to control both chambers of the legislature, passed the bills around dawn on Dec. 5 following an all-night session, after protesters crying “Shame” packed the halls of the state capital the day before.
The legislation included new limits on early voting, despite a judge’s ruling two years ago that struck down a similar law. That measure has already been challenged in federal court.
Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Scott Malone