Wisconsin AG asks court to block order halting union bargaining law

[JURIST] Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen (R) [official website] asked the state's Court of Appeals [official website] on Monday to block [motion, PDF] an order issued last week temporarily halting a legislative measure designed to curb the collective bargaining power of unions. Van Hollen's office filed the motion seeking temporary relief from a Dane County Circuit Court [official website] order [text; JURIST report] enjoining Wisconsin Secretary of State Douglas La Follette [official website] from publishing the Budget Repair Bill [SB 11 text, PDF], thus giving it the effect of law. He also asked for leave to appeal the order and for relief consisting of an order to stay the circuit court's ruling. Van Hollen argues that the Dane County Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because the four named defendants, who are all state legislators, enjoy legislative immunity during the regular legislative term. He also argued that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to enjoin the publishing of the law:

Contrary to established case law, the trial court injected itself into the legislative process and enjoined a legislative act. There is absolutely no authority for the broad, over reaching step taken. In the interests of the administration of justice, it is necessary—nay, it is imperative—that this Court step forward and undo this inappropriate act. ... It is only after the ministerial, non-discretionary act of publication—that is after the law is in force—that a trial court my visit the issue of constitutionality of the law.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled to begin March 29.

The lawsuit [JURIST report], filed last week by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne (D) [official website], alleges that Republican legislators did not follow the state's open meetings law [text], a rule requiring 24 hours notice—or two hours if there is an emergency—before a public meeting. Ozanne's suit was the second such challenge by a state official, following a similar suit [complaint] filed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (D) [official profile]. The provisions of the Budget Repair Bill limiting bargaining rights incensed unions and their supporters, sparking protests which have been ongoing since mid-February, when the bill was introduced. The bill was signed [JURIST report] into law by Governor Scott Walker (R) [official website] on March 11.

 

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