A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday dismissed a challenge to the state's 2011 collective bargaining law [text] brought by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association (WLEA) [union website], holding that the state legislature's limitation on the right to collectively bargain did not infringe on the constitutional right to freely associate. Judge John Markson, presiding over the Dane County Circuit Court [official website], upheld the Budget Repair Bill, also known as Act 10, serving as the fourth defeat [Wisconsin State Journal report] for opponents of the law since it became effective in June 2011. According to Markson, "The problem with the plaintiffs' argument is that it conflates the right to collectively bargain, a statutory right, with freedom of association, a constitutional right. They are not the same."
The WLEA 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. Both the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, in September, along with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website], in January [JURIST reports], upheld the law as a constitutional exercise of power. A Dane County Circuit Court judge struck down [JURIST report] the law as it applies to school district and local government workers in September of last year. Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen filed an appeal [JURIST report] days later. In July 2012 the Wisconsin Supreme Court 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 reports] that struck down the law for violations of the open meetings rule.