Appeals panel receptive to allowing legislators to intervene to defend pro-life laws

By Dave Andrusko

So you’re a solidly pro-life legislature which passes commonsense legislation which inevitably Planned Parenthood or the ACLU or both take to court. What happens if the office whose job it is to defend your legislation is occupied by a pro-abortionist?

Welcome to Wisconsin whose AG is Josh Kaul, a Democrat, from whom Republicans understandably do not expect his best work. In March, after Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging laws that say only physicians can perform abortions and that women undergoing chemical abortions have physical exam and an in-person administration of chemical abortion—inducing drugs such as RU-486, Republican legislators asked to be allowed to intervene.

Why did they not trust Kaul? Here’s what the pro-abortion Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote

GOP lawmakers said they didn’t believe Kaul would defend the laws as ardently as possible because he had been endorsed by an arm of Planned Parenthood; had joined other states in challenging federal regulations barring family planning clinics that receive government funding from referring patients to abortion clinics; and had withdrawn friend-of-the-court briefs filed by his Republican predecessor in two cases challenging abortion restrictions in other states.

Is it just me, or does that seem like ample evidence?

However, the Republicans’ petition was turned down by U.S. District Judge William Conley,

But, undaunted, Republicans appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh District. On Friday, according to Courthouse News, the judges on the appellate court panel “were sympathetic.”

Jeffrey Harris, the legislator’s attorney “insisted that GOP lawmakers needed ‘a proactive seat at the table,’ especially in the event that the attorney general might consider settling the case,” according to reporter Lorraine Bailey. “We think the Legislature has a right to be there,” Harris said.

Bailey explained that Judge Conley wrote that to allow the legislators to intervene “would likely infuse additional politics into an already politically divisive area of the law and needlessly complicate this case.” The panel saw it otherwise.

“The statute itself is a policy statement,” U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Sykes told Assistant Attorney General Brian Keenan, referring to a law passed in December permitting the Legislature’s intervention at any time in any action as a matter of right. “It establishes as a matter of Wisconsin policy that the attorney general cannot adequately represent Wisconsin in this class of cases.”

Judge Sykes was joined by Judge Joel Flaum and Judge Amy St. Eve.