Friday, March 18, 2011

Judge blocks Wisconsin's anti-union law... for now

Well, we knew there was something quite possibly illegal about how Republicans rammed through their anti-union legislation in Wisconsin, and a judge agrees that, at the very least, there needs to be a full hearing on what happened:

CHICAGO — A judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday that prevents Wisconsin's new law cutting collective bargaining rights for public workers from taking effect, at least for now.

The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, temporarily bars Wisconsin's secretary of state from publishing the controversial law, one of the procedural requirements for it to come into effect in the state. Publication had been expected late next week, but Judge Sumi’s ruling delays that until at least March 29, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that questions the validity of the collective bargaining law based on the speedy manner in which it was carried out earlier this month. 

I'm hardly an expert on such matters, but I suspect that the law, or rather the process by which the law came into being (or almost came into being, as it's not a law yet), will be upheld. Republicans certainly engaged in any number of shenanigans, including ripping out the money elements of the bill so that, as a non-budgetary matter, it didn't require the necessary quorum of senators for passage, but I'm just not sure there's enough to reject the legislation altogether.

No, while "[o]pponents of the measure said they hoped the decision was but the first of many that would ultimately undo legislation that has split the state and drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the state capital over a matter of many weeks," the place to fight this legislation is not in the courts but in the court of public opinion and then at the polls. And that means not just voting out Gov. Walker and Senate Republicans but, where possible, recalling them even before they're up for re-election.

Don't get me wrong, it may very well be worthwhile to keep fighting this in the courts, I'm just not sure that's where Democrats and other opponents of the legislation are most likely to be successful.

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