Waity v. Lemahieu

No. 21-CV-589 (Wis. Cir.); No. 21-AP-802 (Wis. Sup. Ct.)

Attorneys at Pines Bach, LLP, filed a complaint against Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu for spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire private lawyers ahead of the 2021 redistricting process.

Law Forward filed a brief on April 14, 2021 on behalf of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, as amicus curiae (a “friend of the court”), advancing additional reasons legislative leadership is not permitted to spend public funds on this clearly partisan political activity.

Our brief explains that the public-purpose doctrine, a constitutional requirement as old as the state itself, prohibits spending public money on private (or political) interests. If the Legislature needs technical or legal assistance with redistricting, it does not need to hire costly private lawyers: the Attorney General’s office and the multiple legislative service agencies are all available to the Legislature and already funded with public dollars. 

Case Timeline


April 14, 2021

Brief filed.

April 29, 2021

The Dane County Circuit Court found for the plaintiffs, voiding the contracts and preventing further payment to the private lawyers. Speaker Vos and Senator LeMahieu appealed the decision. The case is now pending before the court of appeals, which has twice declined to put the lower court’s decision on hold while the appeal is heard.

July 8, 2021

After legislative leaders’ contracts for private attorneys were voided by a court, they appealed. The court of appeals refused to block the lower court’s decision while they hear the case. Now, Vos and LeMahieu have requested that the Wisconsin Supreme Court bypass the normal appellate process and take the case immediately. On behalf of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, we’ve filed a brief opposing this extraordinary request.

July 9, 2021

Brief filed.

January 27, 2022

Supreme Court decision filed.

Amicus Brief, Good Governance, Redistricting & Fair Maps

Wisconsin Circuit Court, Wisconsin Supreme Court