Foxconn's Dubious Bypass to Wisconsin Supreme Court

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

September 6, 2017

When the Joint Finance Committee voted, along party lines, to give Foxconn the right to directly appeal any lower court order straight to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and to have that order suspended until the high court rules on it, the legislature was entering very dubious legal waters.

First of all, there is a separation of powers problem. The legislature is letting Foxconn skip the entire appellate court process. Where does the legislature get off telling the judiciary how it will function?

Secondly, there is an equal protection problem. Why should other businesses, or individuals, have to go through the potentially costly appellate process when Foxconn doesn’t have to? And why can only Foxconn get an instant and automatic stay on any lower court’s decision when every other party in the lower courts has to ask a judge for a stay?

The reason why the Joint Finance Committee carved out the exception for Foxconn is pretty obvious: The Wisconsin Supreme Court is reliably in the hands of a conservative and business-friendly majority.

This judicial exemption that the GOP-dominated Joint Finance Committee has carved out for Foxconn puts in sharp relief the utter corporatization of Wisconsin politics.

We don’t have a democracy in Wisconsin today. We have corporate rule.

Business lobbies and corporate-funded dark money groups have been instrumental in electing the GOP majority in the Assembly, the State Senate, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and they’ve been crucial in keeping Scott Walker in the governor’s mansion.

Once those elected officials have gotten in, they’ve used our tax dollars as an ATM for private companies, and they continue to bend our laws, traditions, and even the very workings of our democracy to benefit not the people of Wisconsin but private commercial interests – even ones based in Taiwan.

Foxconn will go down in history as one of the saddest chapters in the decline of democracy in Wisconsin. Our elected officials, who are supposed to serve us, are impoverishing us instead, jeopardizing our environment, and monkeying with our system of checks and balances – all for the mirage of 13,000 jobs. And incidentally, we could have created 13,000 jobs far more cheaply with wise public investments in schools, roads, bridges, high-speed Internet, and green technology.

But since our GOP has turned private sector jobs into a golden calf, it is willing to sacrifice everything on the altar of that fake idol.