Court rules legislature can’t intervene in Planned Parenthood case

By: - November 11, 2019 8:29 am
Attorney General Josh Kaul at the Joint Finance Committee meeting8/27/19

Attorney General Josh Kaul appears before the Joint Finance Committee on 8/27/19 regarding the lame-duck laws, Act 369

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Court Judge William Conley’s decision to deny intervention by the Wisconsin Legislature in a case brought against the state by Planned Parenthood.

The decision is a setback for the GOP-controlled legislature, which argued that a law it passed during the lame duck session after Gov. Tony Evers was elected gave it the right to intervene with its own lawyers in any court to defend state statutes, even when the attorney general was already defending the statute.

In January, Planned Parenthood challenged Wisconsin laws allowing only doctors to perform abortions and requiring women seeking abortions to see the same doctor on two separate visits.

Judge Conley ruled in April that legislative intervention would “needlessly complicate this case.”

The 7th Circuit’s decision upholding the decision leaves Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, to defend the state in court against Planned Parenthood.

All three of the judges on the 7th Circuit panel were appointed by Republican presidents and the decision was written by an appointee of President Donald Trump.

U.S. Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve wrote in her decision that “the Legislature’s motion to intervene as of right was appropriately denied because the Legislature did not demonstrate that the attorney general is an inadequate representative of the state’s interest absent a showing he is acting in bad faith or with gross negligence,” Courthouse News Service reports.

“The judge was not convinced by the Legislature’s mistrust of Kaul in defending the state’s interests in court based on the fact that he is a Democrat,” according to the Courthouse News Service report.

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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Her book "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel Award from The New Press.