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High court overrules Sumi, says union reform law in effect

By   /   June 14, 2011  /   No Comments

By Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — The state Supreme Court overturned a lower court late Thursday, ruling that Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law is in effect.

The ruling voids Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi’s decision that the law wasn’t in effect because lawmakers broke the state’s open meetings law during the passage of the legislation.

The news came as lawmakers prepared to add the collective bargaining legislation as an amendment to the budget bill that the Assembly is set to start debating tonight.

“We’ve been saying since day one that Republicans passed the budget repair bill correctly, so frankly this isn’t much of a surprise,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald said in a joint statement. “We followed the law when the bill was passed, simple as that.”

Melanie Conklin, spokeswoman for Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, said Barca and their attorney are reviewing the ruling and will have a statement shortly.

In its ruling, the state Supreme Court said because the Circuit Court “invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers …. under the Wisconsin Constitution” when Sumi issued a temporary restraining order preventing the law from going into effect.

The court also ruled that Secretary of State Doug La Follette “has not yet fulfilled his statutory duty to publish a notice of publication” and because of the court’s ruling “there remains no impediments to the Secretary of State fulfilling his obligations under” state law.

Although protesters arrived at the Capitol throughout the day in opposition to the proposed state budget, news of the court ruling circulated just before the main protest rally was expected to start at 5:30 p.m.

“They’re trying to turn us into Mississippi, without the good weather,” said Jack Bernfeld, associate director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40