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Wisconsin AG moves to withdraw from lawsuit

Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed a motion to withdraw Wisconsin from an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Kaul filed the motion Thursday after his fellow Democrat, Gov. Tony Evers, ordered him to withdraw Wisconsin from the lawsuit.

Kaul had been blocked from taking action under a law passed by the Republican Legislature in a lame-duck session shortly before he took office. But a Dane County circuit judge on Thursday ruled that the laws were unconstitutionally passed, giving Evers and Kaul a window to take action.

Republicans say they will appeal the ruling, which could result in a higher court putting Thursday’s decision on hold.

Both Kaul and Evers campaigned on wanting to withdraw from the multi-state lawsuit.

Evers had promised during his campaign last year to pull Wisconsin out of the ACA lawsuit. Republican lawmakers stopped him cold, though, after passing the lame-duck bills that prohibited him from withdrawing from lawsuits without legislative approval.

Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess issued a temporary injunction Thursday blocking the lame-duck laws, ruling that the Legislature had convened illegally when it passed them.

Evers’ attorney sent a message ordering the withdrawal from the ACA action to the state Department of Justice less than two hours after Niess had handed down his ruling.

Republican legislative leaders vowed to appeal a judge’s ruling blocking lame-duck laws limiting the governor and attorney general’s powers.

The injunction is part of lawsuit a coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed in January. They argue that the Legislature passed the laws during an illegal extraordinary session. That’s an unscheduled floor period that majority party leaders can call.

Niess found that the state constitution doesn’t provide for such sessions. The Legislature’s attorneys argue Niess’ ruling leaves thousands of statutes passed during extraordinary session over the years vulnerable to legal challenges.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a joint statement saying they’ll appeal and Niess’ ruling creates legal chaos.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke tweeted that he isn’t surprised a Dane County judge has issued a partisan ruling.

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