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Good News for Constitutional Conservatives in Two CA-Related Court Rulings, But Very Bad News in WI

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But it is rare for so many judges to sign on to a single decision, said Samuel Bufford, a former Central District bankruptcy judge and now a scholar in residence at Penn State Law.

And it's "highly unusual" for a bankruptcy court to declare any aspect of the law unconstitutional, Bufford added.

Another win for lovers of freedom, liberty, rights and the constitution.

The same cannot be said about what happened in Wisconsin today...

Wisconsin's Anti-Collective Bargaining Law

Finally, the bad news, at least for those conservatives who don't believe big government ought to be in the business of stripping rights from citizens.

"Acting with unusual speed," as Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel described today's surprising turn of events, "the state Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Gov. Scott Walker's plan to all but end collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers."

On the very same day the court decided officially to accept the case, they also issued their verdict. It was a largely predictable one, with all four Republican appointees on the court siding with Walker and the state GOP which passed the controversial law without the presence of any of the 14 Democrats in the state Senate. All three Democratic appointees on the bench joined in the minority dissent.

"Tuesday' 68-page decision was a thicket of concurrences and dissents, reflecting the sharp divide the measure has created in the state itself," writes Reuters.

The state Supremes were asked by Walker to decide the case after a lower court judge invalidated the law. She had found that that the legislature violated the state's open meetings law requiring 24 hour notice before convening to discuss a law in committee. In fact, the committee discussed the law with less than two hours public notice after they'd hastily moved provisions stripping collective bargaining rights of most public unions from a state budget bill (which requires a two-thirds majority to pass) into a stand alone bill that could be passed with a simple majority.

The lawmakers' attempt to take rights away from citizens in the legislation had led to massive protests at the state capital in Madison earlier this year and led Democratic Senators to flee the state in order to deny the Republicans of the quorum needed to vote on a budget bill.

The basis for the court's split decision was somewhat remarkable, as they found that the open meetings law does not actually apply to the state legislature!

Via the Journal Sentinel:

The court found a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state's open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when they hastily approved the measure and made it possible for the Senate to take it up.
...
The court concluded that [Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann] Sumi exceeded her jurisdiction, "invaded" the Legislature's constitutional powers and erred in halting the publication and implementation of the collective bargaining law.

The court added that its role is limited to determining whether the Legislature employed a "constitutionally violative process in the enactment of the act. We conclude that the Legislature did not violate the Wisconsin Constitution by the process it used."

Making the decision even more remarkable, the paper added, until today, "the court had not officially said whether it would even accept the case." But the state legislator had informed the court that, short of a ruling today, they planned to move the union-stripping measures into a different piece of legislation which they vowed to take up this evening.

Of course, Justice David Prosser, a former colleague of Walker's, added what appeared to be partisan heat to the decision by including his own concurrence with the majority. Prosser, in one breath during his recent election campaign, promised fealty to the Governor and his legislative agenda. In all the other campaign breaths, the hard right Partisan, somewhat laughably, claimed to be a judicial independent.

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Brad Friedman publishes Bradblog.com
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