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Wisconsin court allows challenge to collective bargaining law

A judge for the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] on Friday allowed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging Wisconsin's controversial collective bargaining law [Budget Repair Bill, text] to proceed, despite objections from the state's Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association (WLEA) [union website], a public sector union, filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in November, contending that the Budget Repair Bill's limitations on unions' collective bargaining rights violates unions' association, speech, petition, advocacy and equal protection rights. Wisconsin's DOJ wanted the court to delay the ruling [AP report] until appellate courts ruled on another lawsuit against the Budget Repair Bill. However, Judge John Markson rejected the DOJ's argument, saying that the WLEA's lawsuit and another lawsuit filed by school and local government workers address different parts of the Budget Repair Bill and should be dealt with separately.

The Budget Repair Bill has been the subject of legal and political controversy since its passage. In January the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] upheld the law [JURIST report] as a constitutional exercise of power. A Dane County Circuit Court judge struck down the law [JURIST report] as it applies to school district and local government workers in September. Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen [official profile] filed an appeal [JURIST report] days later. In July the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] refused to reopen a case challenging the Budget Repair Bill because of a justice's refusal to recuse himself [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court's upholding of Act 10 in June 2011 overturned a Dane County Circuit Court's decision [JURIST report] that struck down the law for violations of the open meetings rule.

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