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Can courts stop the GOP’s assault on the powers of Wisconsin’s incoming Democratic officials?

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By Danny Cevallos

The Wisconsin Senate voted this week to pass wide-reaching bills in a lame-duck session that would empower the GOP-controlled Legislature and weaken the incoming governor and attorney general, both Democrats who are replacing Republicans.

Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, as a soon-to-be member of the executive branch, has suggested on MSNBC that there will be multiple lawsuits challenging the legislature’s supposed appropriation of executive authority, in violation of the “separation of powers” doctrine. (Kaul is succeeding Brad Schimel, while Tony Evers is succeeding Gov. Scott Walker.)

The “separation of powers” doctrine, while not in the Wisconsin Constitution, is implicit in the division of powers among the judicial, legislative and executive branches, and is a foundational principle of Wisconsin’s tri-partite system of government.

The state Constitution creates the same three separate, coordinate branches of government that are a feature of the American federal government. No state government branch is to assert control over, or exercise the power constitutionally committed to, one of the other branches.

That means the legislature in Wisconsin has a “core zone” of exclusive authority into which the executive and judicial branch may not intrude. In these core areas, any exercise of authority by the judiciary would be unconstitutional.

On the other hand, the majority of governmental powers among the branches also overlap within areas of shared authority. In these areas of “shared power” one branch of government may exercise the power possessed by another branch, but only if it does not unduly burden or interfere with that other branch’s power. The challenge is determining which areas are “shared” between the legislative and other branches, and which areas are core, unquestionable legislative branch powers.

Democrats likely will take the position that it is the state judiciary’s long-recognized duty, recognized since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, to entertain a lawsuit challenging the acts of the legislature for any conflict with the Wisconsin constitution.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has adjudicated disputes about the constitutional functions of the other state government branches, notwithstanding the fact that a case involves political considerations or consequences. But a Wisconsin court reviewing the Democrats’ potential challenge to the Republicans’ legislative power would also have to consider whether this dispute involves a “nonjusticiable political question.”

If Democrats filed suit over the Wisconsin legislature’s actions, the courts may invoke the “political question” doctrine to decline to adjudicate issues better left resolved by the legislative branch. If the challenged action is exclusively committed to the legislative branch,, it may be described as a “political question.” This means it may be “nonjusticiable” by the courts. The rationale is this: If the courts could review and overturn everything a legislature did, then the judiciary would effectively usurp the power of another branch of government.

It’s hard to determine whether, in a particular case, the court should review the actions of the legislature for constitutionality, or whether it should stay out of the dispute because that issue is solely the province of the legislature.

For example, Wisconsin courts have in the past considered the legislature’s adherence to its own procedural rules a matter entirely within the legislature’s control, and not subject to judicial review. Wisconsin courts will not invalidate a state law because of the legislature’s failure to comply with its own procedural rules, so long as all constitutional requirements have been followed.

The Wisconsin Democrats’ prospective legal action against the lame-duck actions of the Republican state legislature will base their challenge on a violation of separation of powers. The Republicans will likely counter with the argument that these legislative acts are one of the core powers reserved to the legislature, and therefore, the acts of the GOP lawmakers constitute a “nonjusticiable political question” — one the courts cannot review.

Danny Cevallos is an MSNBC legal analyst. Follow @CevallosLaw on Twitter.



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Marine Le Pen first husband: The ONE connection between husbands and new boyfriend

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MARINE LE PEN’s party is tipped to top the upcoming European Parliament elections in France, leading with 24.5 percent of the French vote according to a recent poll, but what is Mrs Le Pen’s personal life like?

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Trump announces $16 billion in aid to farmers as trade war continues

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By Lauren Egan and Phil McCausland

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a $16 billion aid package for American farmers aimed at softening the financial blow created by the ongoing trade war with China.

“Our farmers will be greatly helped,” Trump said during a press event in Roosevelt Room at the White House. “The 16 billion [dollar] funds will help keep our cherished farms thriving.”

Thursday’s announcement comes as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and China and negotiations have largely stalled.

Earlier this month, talks between the two countries ended without a deal as Trump imposed another round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. And both Trump and President Xi Jinping of China have signaled that they are prepared for a long fight, if necessary.

Thursday’s aid package is the second bailout the Trump administration has issued in response to decreased agriculture trade with China. Last November, Trump announced $12 billion in aid to “make it up” to farmers, as he described it.

“During that time of negotiation, if everyone remembers, we had a period where China would target our farms,” Trump said Thursday. “Now is the time to insist on fair and reciprocal trade for our workers and our farmers.”

Trump added that he was “hopeful” that trade talks could begin again with China, but if that didn’t happen, “that’s fine.”

“These tariffs are paid for largely by China,” Trump continued, repeating claims that the tariffs were being paid out by China, not American importers. However, a study published Thursday by the International Monetary Fund found that the tariff revenue on Chinese goods “has been borne almost entirely” by U.S. importers.

Communities that supported Trump in the 2016 election have been some of the hardest hit by the ongoing trade war, and some say there is reason for Republicans to be concerned as the window to reach a deal with China before the 2020 election continues to narrow.

“I think President Trump is counting on his tariff bailout payments to buy support for him among farmers, but this is a bigger issue,” Richard Oswald, 69, of Langdon, Missouri, a fifth generation farmer, said in a phone interview with NBC News. “This is going to bite a lot of Republicans when it’s all set and done. I don’t think he understands the stress people are under and it shows a lack of compassion.”

The timing of the administration’s decision to roll out another bailout, as farmers are still deciding what crops to plant this season, has come under criticism from some lawmakers, especially since the aid comes with some strings.

“We want farmers to make decisions on how many acres of corn and soybeans to plant based on the market and not something the government’s doing,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters on Wednesday.

Jonathan Coppess, the former Farm Service Agency administrator and the director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at the University of Illinois, also expressed concerns about the aid package.

“Frankly the most immediate issues they need to clear up is the requirement that you need to plant a crop to get payment. The risk of impacting planting decisions is already in place. They’re telling them explicitly that they have to plant something,” Coppess said in an interview with NBC News, cautioning the potential for a further depressed market.

In addition to the $16 billion aid funds, Trump also announced plans to roll back some regulations on farming in the coming days, although he did not provide specifics. “We’re saving our farmers and ranchers from ridiculous regulations,” Trump said Thursday.

Trump is expected to meet with Xi at the G20 summit in June.

Lauren Egan reported from Washington, and Phil McCausland reported from New York.

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Brexit LATEST: What is happening with Brexit NOW? Everything you need to know

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BREXIT is making headlines again, with the Prime Minister being pushed to resign and the threat of another vote on the deal. So what is happening now?

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