The Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] voted 3-3 [opinion, PDF] on Thursday not to reopen a case challenging the state's collective bargaining law because of a justice's refusal to recuse himself. The court ruled [opinion, JURIST report] in a 4-3 decision last month that the Budget Repair Bill [text, PDF] was not passed in violation of the "open meetings" rule [text], but plaintiffs asked that the case be re-opened because Justice Michael Gableman should have recused himself after failing to disclose that he had received free legal advice from a law firm defending the law. Four votes were required to re-open the case, and only three justices voted in support of re-opening it. In their opinion, the three justices who declined to reopen the case wrote:
We determine that Justice Gableman made the required subjective determination that he could be impartial in the case and that it would appear that he could act in an impartial manner. The supreme court does not go beyond review of a justice's subjective determination that he or she may participate in a case under Wis. Stat. § 757.19(2)(g) [text].Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a dissenting opinion joined by two other justices.
The Supreme Court's upholding of the Budget Repair Bill overruled a Dane County Circuit Court's [official website] decision [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] last year that struck down the law for violations of the open meetings rule. The law had previously been temporarily blocked [JURIST report] from publication and implementation by the same judge. The bill, which limits collective bargaining rights of state employees and requires them to contribute a percentage of their salaries to their health care and pensions, was signed into law [JURIST report] in March of last year