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Wisconsin Supreme Court Validates Collective Bargaining Law, Overturning Dane County Judge's Ruling

6:43 PM, Jun 14, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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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 majority opinion was by Justices Michael Gableman, David Prosser, Patience Roggensack and Annette Ziegler. The other three justices - Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and N. Patrick Crooks - concurred in part and dissented in part.

The opinion voided all orders in the case from the lower court. It came just before 5 p.m., sparing Republicans who control the Legislature from taking up the contentious issue of collective bargaining again.

The earlier decision by a Dane county judge striking down the law was laughable at best.

To recap: this was a procedural argument. Democrats argued that Republicans had violated the open meetings law, which states 24 hours' notice should generally be given before public meetings, or 2 hours' notice when it's "impossible or impractical" to wait 24. 

But the open meetings law also states that where it conflicts with legislative rules, the rules trump the law. And the rules state that during a special session--under which the legislature was convened this spring--that no notice other than a bulletin board posting is necessary. Republicans made such a posting and then they waited 2 hours just to be safe, though they may have only waited an hour and forty-five minutes. 

Bottom line: the budget repair bill stands. The only way it's going to be overturned is if Democrats win back the senate, assembly, and governorship. That's tough, but not impossible. 

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