Judge dismisses one of three lawsuits on Wisconsin law

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 14, 2011 4:11 PM

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Wisconsin judge who blocked the implementation of the state law limiting collective bargaining by public workers threw out one of the three lawsuits on Thursday challenging the controversial measure.

The suit, which claimed the law's passage violated the state's constitution, was filed by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and County Board Chair Scott McDonell.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi said the county officials lacked standing to assert constitutional claims. She said they could refile their suit as private citizens.

Sumi is also hearing a separate lawsuit against the law filed by the Dane County district attorney.

That suit claims the Republicans who passed the anti-union measure violated the state's Open Meetings Law.

Last month, Sumi issued a restraining order preventing the law from taking effect while she hears arguments in the case, a process that is expected to continue through May

The measure, known as Wisconsin Act 10, was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in early March.

It bans collective bargaining by most public employees on anything other than base wages, and even those are tightly regulated.

Walker, who strongly pushed the legislation, said it was necessary part of a broader package to combat what he says is the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit.

The fight over the Wisconsin law turned the state into a national flashpoint in much larger battle over workers rights amid huge state budget deficits and debt burdens. Protesters occupied the Wisconsin state capitol for weeks and staged the biggest demonstrations in Madison since the Vietnam War.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Greg McCune)