Effort to weaken governors stirs debate
MILWAUKEE >> If Democrats sue to prevent Republicans from diluting the powers of newly elected governors and attorneys general in Wisconsin and Michigan, the lawsuits will probably center on one question: Are lawmakers usurping authority that belongs to the executive branch?
The legal threat arose after Republicans passed bills that would give lawmakers leverage over actions previous governors and attorneys general could carry out on their own. If the bills are signed by outgoing GOP Gov. Scott Walker, lawmakers will decide when the state can withdraw from lawsuits, and the new Democratic governor will have to ask permission to adjust programs that are run jointly with the federal government, such as Medicaid.
“Separation of powers is an essential part of overall governance and built into the constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal legal organization.