by Benjamin Yount
Wisconsin’s governor is going to have to find a new way, or a new person, to change the make-up of the state’s Department of Natural Resources Board.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against a lawsuit from the governor to force Frederick Prehn off the board. Prehn, whose term expired in May of last year, was appointed by former Gov. Scott Walker.
But the Wisconsin Senate has not approved his replacement, so the court said Prehn cannot be forced off the board.
“It is undoubtedly true that Prehn serves a defined term of office, and it is accepted that Prehn’s term expired in May 2021,” Chief Justice Annette Ziegler wrote in her 4-3 opinion. “However, those realities say nothing about whether there is now a ‘vacancy’ in Prehn’s DNR Board position.”
Attorney General Josh Kaul ripped Ziegler’s ruling.
“This is yet another warning sign about the health of democracy in Wisconsin,” Kaul said at a Wednesday news conference.
He said in a statement that “Our system of government is premised on consent of the governed. This decision departs from that fundamental principle and further erodes democracy in Wisconsin.”
But state Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said the Senate’s job is to advise and consent on the governor’s appointment. And they have not accepted the governor’s choice to replace Prehn.
“Gov. Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul continue to file lawsuits when they don’t get their way, wasting taxpayer dollars, and losing time after time in the courts,” Kapenga said. “Today’s ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court yet again confirms our state’s strong commitment to checks and balances and affirms the Wisconsin State Senate’s authority to confirm or not confirm the Governor’s nominees.“
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