Preserving Democracy Project

Our Constitution establishes the separation of powers to strengthen liberty and serve as a protection against government abuse. They are essential facets of our democracy.

Yet both are under attack by unelected bureaucrats and rogue government officials who have claimed for themselves more power and control than the people ever gave to them. As these power grabs become more and more frequent and the administrative state grows, it is more important than ever that everyday Americans fight back. The Preserving Democracy project at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty is the vanguard in that fight.

We fight to enforce structural limitations on government power.

We hold bureaucrats to the rule of law. Rogue government officials at the local, state and federal level who act beyond the authority given to them must be reined in. The Preserving Democracy project stands at the forefront of that fight, litigating cases in state and federal court to ensure that government officials act within their lawful authority.

WILL’s Preserving Democracy Project has a long track record of successes in state and federal courts both here in Wisconsin and nationwide.

Open Cases

Pellegrini v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, et al.

On behalf of Robert Pellegrini, a registered Wisconsin voter and taxpayer, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) challenging WEC’s abdication of its duties to investigate and decide complaints against local election officials. Instead of the six WEC Commissioners deciding those complaints, they have delegated the responsibility to staff.

Concluded Cases

WCRIS V. HEINRICH

WILL filed an original action to the Wisconsin Supreme Court asking for a review of the Dane County health department’s order closing all schools, public and private, for grades 3-12.

BARTLETT V. EVERS

Governor Evers used his partial veto authority to create new laws and pay for new projects the Legislature never approved. We believe that practice is a usurpation of the Legislature’s authority to write laws, and filed an original action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in order to enforce limits on the power.

Tankcraft v. OSHA

WILL sued the Biden administration in federal court, on behalf of two Wisconsin businesses, challenging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) sweeping new vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. OSHA’s emergency rule, issued November 4, requires businesses of a certain size to require proof of vaccination or regular COVID-19 tests for their employees. Companies that do not comply face penalties of over $13,000 per violation, or over $136,000 for a willful violation.

TEIGEN V. WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION

WILL filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court, on behalf of two Waukesha County voters, challenging the legal status and advice from the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) on the use of ballot drop boxes. WILL is asking the court for a declaratory judgment that makes clear that there are just two legal ways to cast an absentee ballot in Wisconsin: through the U.S. mail or delivered in person to the municipal clerk.

Policy Work

Through the Preserving Democracy project we will continue to use all tools available to hold government officials accountable to the law.

The Preserving Democracy project will also include a robust public education component. Our liberties are secure and will endure only insofar as Americans value and uphold the principles and institutions that preserve them. Our “Citizens Guide to the Wisconsin Administrative State” was the start of this effort, We plan to continue and increase our efforts to inform and educate citizens about why our government is structured as it is and how the rule of law protects them.

Our work is not limited to just litigation. We have successfully overturned unlawful agency action by working through legislative oversight committees (such as when Wisconsin tried to put the pool-share company Swimply out of business), and regularly send demand letters to officials at all levels of government to ensure that they act within the law. Our policy team also works closely with our attorneys to produce timely research and advocate for opportunities to strengthen the separation of powers. 

Six Reforms to Improve Wisconsin’s Regulatory Climate

A recent WILL study found that the Wisconsin Administrative Code contains more than 161,000 restrictions, making Wisconsin the most regulated state on a per-capita basis in the Great Lakes region. WILL Policy Director, Kyle Koenen, and WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, provide six specific reforms that policymakers can adopt to address Wisconsin’s burdensome regulatory climate.