UPDATE: Thursday news: Vermont gets single payer, WI anti-union bill struck down, AZ immigration sanctions law upheld; Romney ahead

It’s been anything but a slow news day so far. Here’s what’s breaking right now.

The Associated Press is reporting the anti-union law rammed through by Wisconsin GOP lawmakers, touching off demonstrations in the capitol, a flurry of recall efforts and preceded by the flight of 14 Democratic lawmakers from the state to try and stop the bill, has been struck down by a circuit court judge. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Madison - A Dane County judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation repealing most collective bargaining for public employees.

In a 33-page decision issued Thursday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she would freeze the legislation because GOP lawmakers on a committee broke the state’s open meetings law in passing it March 9.

The legislation limits collective bargaining to wages for all public employees in Wisconsin except for police and firefighters.

“It’s what we were looking for,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat.

Ozanne sued to block the law after Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that GOP legislative leaders had not given proper notice in convening a conference committee of lawmakers from both houses to approve Walker’s budget-repair bill.

A spokesman for state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the state Department of Justice could not be reached immediately for comment on the decision. A spokesman for Walker also could not be immediately reached.

In the decision, Sumi appeared to be bracing for an outcry from Republicans and supporters of the law, noting that judges are supposed to apply the law even if their decisions will be “controversial or unpopular.” Sumi writes that Ozanne showed by “clear and convincing evidence” that the open meetings law had been violated.

“This decision explains why it is necessary to void the legislative actions flowing from those violations,” wrote Sumi, who was appointed to the bench by former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Hat tip to the Rachel Maddow blog. Read the ruling here.

Walker has signed another controversial bill into law – this one requiring photo ID to vote. And it too could soon face a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, residents of Vermont now officially enjoy single payer healthcare. The Democratic governor of that state, Peter Shumlin, signed the law today.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who is still struggling to explain to Republican voters why Romneycare is OK but it’s love child, Obamacare is not, was asked about the Vermont plan, and declared it A.O.K.

Romney leads the shrunken field of would-be GOP presidential candidates, according to a new Gallup poll, followed by none other than Sarah Palin.

If New York Rep. Peter King is to be believed, that field could get a little bigger, if Rudy Giuliani reprises his seemingly perennial post-9/11 quest for the White House.

And if the New York Times is to be believed, Sarah Palin is also thinking about getting into the presidential race … or maybe she’s just vying for attention.

Meanwhile, former vice president Dick Cheney ‘worships the ground Paul Ryan walks on,’ but hopes he won’t run for president, and sully himself in the doing.

In other news, oh, Canada.

And in global news, a Serbian war criminal is finally brought to justice.

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a law allowing Arizona to shut down any business found to knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

The decision upholding the validity of the 2007 law comes as the state is appealing a ruling that blocked key components of a second, more controversial Arizona immigration enforcement law. Thursday's decision applies only to business licenses and does not signal how the high court might rule if the other law comes before it.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a majority made up of Republican-appointed justices, said the Arizona's employer sanctions law "falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the states."

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, all Democratic appointees, dissented. The fourth Democratic appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate in the case because she worked on it while serving as President Barack Obama's solicitor general

Breyer said the Arizona law upsets a balance in federal law between dissuading employers from hiring illegal workers and ensuring that people are not discriminated against because they may speak with an accent or look like they might be immigrants.

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