In contempt: Wisconsin judge blocks anti-union law … AGAIN … as Republicans vow to ignore her

A Wisconsin judge issues a new ruling on the GOP union-busting law, perhaps wondering whether anyone in Madison can read (and if not, why they’re trying to chase away all the teachers …)

From JSOnline:

Madison – For the second time in less than two weeks, a Dane County judge Tuesday issued an order blocking the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curb collective bargaining for public workers.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi said that her original restraining order issued earlier this month was clear in saying no steps should be take to advance the law. The GOP governor’s administration did so after the bill was published Friday by a state agency not named in Sumi’s earlier temporary restraining order.

“Further implementation of the act is enjoined,” Sumi said.

“Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear.”

She warned that those who violate her order could face court sanctions.

But outside the courtroom, Assistant Attorney General Steven Means said the legislation “absolutely” is still in effect.

The statement by Means – the executive assistant to Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen – shocked Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).

“It’s just startling that the attorney general believes you should not follow court orders anymore,” he said.

In a later statement, Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh said: “We don’t believe that the court can enjoin non-parties. Whether the Department of Administration or other state officers choose to comply with any direction issued by Judge Sumi is up to them.”

The new restraining order bars Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette from designating a publication date for the law or running a notice about it in the official state newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. Sumi’s written order does not name anyone else.

It is in effect until further order of the court, and another hearing is slated for Friday. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, has asked her to permanently halt the law because he believes a legislative committee violated the open meetings law when it approved the legislation.

Sumi has not yet ruled on whether lawmakers violated the open meetings law, but she noted the Legislature could resolve the litigation by passing the measure again. Republicans who control the Legislature showed no signs of considering that.

“It’s disappointing that a Dane County judge wants to keep interjecting herself into the legislative process with no regard to the state constitution,” said a statement from Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon). “Her action today again flies in the face of the separation of powers between the three branches of government.” …

The judge’s order can be found here.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has already started putting the law in place anyway, while some local governments are waiting for the courts:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration no longer is collecting dues on behalf of state unions and, as of Sunday, is charging employees more for their pensions and health care, even though nonpartisan legislative attorneys say the changes are not yet law.

Backing up the administration, the state Department of Justice argued that the new law – which eliminates most collective bargaining for public workers – is in effect and asked a judge to vacate a restraining order against the law. Meanwhile, a Dane County prosecutor asked a judge to declare that the law is not now in place.

Highlighting the different legal interpretations, some local governments are not implementing the new law for their employees. Officials with the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County said they are waiting for answers from courts before making any changes on benefits and union dues.

The dispute over the new law goes before a Dane County circuit judge on Tuesday, and higher courts are ultimately expected to rule on it.

State workers began paying more for benefits starting Sunday, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Monday in a conference call with reporters. They also no longer are being billed for union dues, and those changes will show up on checks issued April 21, he said.

Employees working for the Legislature are also now being charged more for benefits, said an aide to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

That comes even though an attorney for the Legislature has concluded the law probably has not taken effect, as spelled out in a memo Monday to Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha).

The law requires most public workers to pay at least 12.6% of their health care premiums and half the cost of their pensions – 5.8% of pay for most state employees.

Meanwhile, the first recall against as Wisconsin Republican state Senator may have reached its signature threshold. You’ll never guess which one it is…

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5 Responses to In contempt: Wisconsin judge blocks anti-union law … AGAIN … as Republicans vow to ignore her

  1. Lawrence says:

    Well, we can look at this one of two ways:

    Scott Walker is acting like Pres. Obama in that the law was overruled by a judge but is still being enacted (re: Obamacare ruled unconstitutional by a judge in Fl. but administration continues to enact it)

    OR

    We can look at the judge’s interest in this case: she has close family in the union and is scrambling to help anyway she can. The procedure used by the republicans and the gov. are both lawful. Her ruling holds no weight.

  2. Marty says:

    Both of your arguments are fundamentally flawed.

    First, The Wisconsin Case in Dane County is an injunction state wide. Thus far–or at least, to the best of my knowledge–there have been no additional stays put into affect. A better analogy would be the DADT policy: One federal judge over seeing the the entirety of the armed forces.

    Additionally, of the 26 challenges to the Health Care Reform Bill, one challenge was ruled unconstitutional. Three challenges ruled in favor of the law. Source: Yahoo/AP. It is clear that the health care reform bill is headed for the Supreme Court and it is following the path required by the constitution. There have been no other judges say that the WI bill should be put into place.

    As to the “Look at the judges interests in the case,” your accusation is the same kind of tired, baseless accusation made by the right regarding rulings they do not favor. DO you have evidence of wrong doing? If you do, it then it goes to the appeals process.

    Furthemore, this is a temporary stay until there is a full ruling. it is fairly common in major cases to have injunctions and stays prior to a full hearing.

  3. Ed says:

    @Lawrence: Seriously? You said:

    > Scott Walker is acting like Pres. Obama in that the
    > law was overruled by a judge but is still being enacted
    > (re: Obamacare ruled unconstitutional by a judge in
    > Fl. but administration continues to enact it)

    Please explain what specific action by the Obama administration you are referring to, and provide a specific citation to an order from a judge restraining or enjoining them from taking that specific action. The article above provides exactly those details in the case of the Walker administration. I believe you won’t find such a citation in the case you mentioned. Prove me wrong.

    Then you said:

    > OR
    > We can look at the judge’s interest in this case:
    > she has close family in the union and is scrambling
    > to help anyway she can. The procedure used by the
    > republicans and the gov. are both lawful. Her ruling
    > holds no weight.

    I challenge you to cite any rules or guidelines of judicial ethics that would in this case require Judge Sumi to recuse herself because her son is in a union. Again, I’m sure you won’t find it. Again, go ahead and prove me wrong.

    But the last sentence is the real problem. Of course her ruling has weight. She is a judge, an elected official of the Government of Dan County and Wisconsin, and therefore empowered by law and the state constitution to give orders that have force (or “weight”, if you prefer).

    You may not like it. You may believe she had a conflict. But she did what her job as a public official empowers her to do. You can fight it. You can choose civil disobedience even, which can be an admirable path. But your declaration that her order has no weight is, well, silly.

  4. John Chambless says:

    OR

    Scott Walker, at the orders of his handlers in Wichita, Kansas, talks Capitalism and “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

    Are “…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …” empty words? Would you have ‘We the People (of Wisconsin)…’ ordained and established by ‘…this Constitution for the United States of America,’ walk away and give up the rights of their citizenship?

  5. Flo says:

    Actually Lawrence, the judge in the FL health care case has said that implementation can go forward. Your comparison is not apt at all.

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