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Wisconsin Judge Says No to Anti-Union Law

5/27/2011, 3:11 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker taketh and the court giveth back.

Yesterday, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that Republican legislators violated the open meeting law when passing a bill that would've stripped collective bargaining rights from the state's public employees.

"The court must consider the potential damage to public trust and confidence in government if the Legislature is not held to the same rules of transparency that it has created for other governmental bodies," wrote Sumi in the court's decision.

Sumi's words were music to the ears of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Paul Neuenfeldt.

"This morning, Judge Sumi upheld what we knew (from) the beginning, that the law stripping hundreds of thousands of public employees of their rights was passed illegally, in the dead of night through a back door maneuver," Neuenfeldt said. "The people have been clear from day one, they have stood together in the streets of Madison and in the streets around the state to express that this law is too extreme for Wisconsin. Today, democracy was upheld."

Democrats tried to prevent Gov. Walker and company from passing the law by leaving the state. Legislators made their way to Illinois back in February to deny conservatives the minimum number of lawmakers present to make a state government meeting invalid.

Republicans eventually passed the bill in March while the Democrats were out of town by splitting the law in two, which allowed the non-budget portion to go through with no hold-ups.

But Wisconsin Republicans have one more shot at getting the bill through.

The state Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for June 6 to decide whether or not it will take the case. Because of the ideological make-up of most of the court's judges (conservative), legislators on both sides believe that if the court takes it on, the bill will go through.