[JURIST] In a ruling from the bench on Thursday, Wisconsin Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds ordered [MJS report] the state’s Governor Scott Walker [official website] to call special elections to fill two empty seats which were previously held by Republicans.
Walker had previously refused to call the elections after two fellow Republicans stepped down to join the Walker administration. Under Walker’s plan, the seats would remain vacant for more than 12 months. This triggered the lawsuit [Petition for Writ of Mandamus, PDF] to compel the elections. The lawsuit was headed by Eric Holder [official profile], the first attorney general under president Barack Obama.
The case relied on a state law [materials] that imposed on Walker a duty to call special elections upon a seat becoming vacant. The judge found that Walker was bound by this duty and, moreover, the delay in doing so violated the voting rights of the voters who lived in the two affected districts.
While the order compelled the holding of the elections themselves, the judge did not impose a date by which the elections must be held. The winners of the election would also be up for re-election again in the November midterm elections.