American Oversight Files Open Meetings Lawsuit Against Speaker Vos’ Secret Impeachment Panel

American Oversight on Monday sued the secret panel created by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to advise on the potential impeachment of a state supreme court justice, alleging that any meetings have been in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

Vos has been considering whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against recently elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she does not recuse herself from a redistricting-related case. Earlier this month, Vos said he was convening a panel of former state supreme court justices to “review and advise” on “criteria for impeachment.”

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer:

“It’s bad enough to threaten to remove an elected justice for political gain, but it’s an additional violation of the public trust to be making plans in secret. Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law exists for a reason: The people have a right to know what their government is doing in their name. The panel could conclude its work before Wisconsinites know what’s going on behind closed doors, so time is of the essence. We urge the court to take immediate action.”

American Oversight, represented by Pines Bach LLP, filed the lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court. The complaint asks the court to prevent the panel from violating Wisconsin’s Open Meetings law.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that there were three members on the panel, including former Justice David T. Prosser. Vos has refused to disclose the names of the other members.

Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law requires that governmental bodies provide advance notice of every meeting, and that they conduct meetings in open session unless specific exemptions apply. “This includes meetings of an advisory body like this one, which has been tasked by Speaker Vos to ‘review and advise’ government action,” Sawyer said.

American Oversight’s lawsuit is available here.