Wisconsin Supreme Court Reinstates Union-Busting Bill

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has now ruled against a challenge to Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation, which had been mounted against the law based on the procedures used to pass it.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state’s open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had struck down the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.

The full opinion can be read here. As a very quick review shows, the court’s 4-3 conservative majority eviscerated Dane County (Madison) Judge Maryann Sumi, who had blocked the law: “This court has granted the petition for an original action because one of the courts that we are charged with supervising has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature.”Republican state legislative leaders had previously said that if this order did not come down the pike today, they would re-pass the bill in a manner that was not vulnerable to the procedural challenge at issue here.

The legal matter revolves around a key conference committee used to advance the bill — and to get around the state Senate Democrats’ walkout from the state — and whether it violated the state’s Open Meetings law by failing to give proper 24-hours notice.

In late May Sumi — who had previously blocked Wisconsin’s controversial anti-union law from taking effect, pending litigation — officially ruled that the manner in which the bill was passed violated the state’s Open Meetings law, and that the law itself was therefore not valid.

Previously in mid-March, Sumi blocked the law on these procedural grounds, issuing a temporary restraining order on the grounds the plaintiff, the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne (D), had a likelihood of success in his complaint.

The Walker administration then made multiple attempts to disregard the ruling and implement the law anyway, before ultimately backing down in the face of repeated orders.