Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Feel Good Story of the Day - Wisconsin Supremes Uphold Collective Bargaining Law

H/T @michellemalkin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the Republican led state legislatures bill that limited bargaining privileges of the public employee unions. The case turned on whether the courts have the right to enforce open meeting laws that govern the state legislature. This was more important than the mere issue of the content of the law itself. Had the law been overturned on procedural grounds, it would open the door for all sorts of mischief by the courts in ruling on whether legislatures followed their own rules. You could imagine that courts could rule that a law raising the speed limit on freeways could be overturned because the court disqualified expert witnesses called by the transportation committee. Judges have no business ruling on legislative procedure.

Professor William Jacobsen of Legal Insurrection is on the case. (A great legal blog along with Volokh for conservatives and libertarians.) ". . .the ruling, which overturned Judge Sumi's rulings both procedurally (for interfering in the legislative process) and substantively (there was no violation of the Open Meetings Law)."
. . .
The Court adopted the argument I had made here many times, that the Courts had no business questioning the legislature's interpretation of its own rules:
¶13 It also is argued that the Act is invalid because the legislature did not follow certain notice provisions of the Open Meetings Law for the March 9, 2011 meeting of the joint committee on conference. It is argued that Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3) required 24 hours notice of that meeting and such notice was not given. It is undisputed that the legislature posted notices of the March 9, 2011 meeting of the joint committee on conference on three bulletin boards, approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes before the start of the meeting. In the posting of notice that was done, the legislature relied on its interpretation of its own rules of proceeding. The court declines to review the validity of the procedure used to give notice of the joint committee on conference....
This is a great victory, both procedurally and substantively. On the substantive grounds, it gives power back to local governments in Wisconsin to scale back benefits, overcome arcane overtime and inflexible work place rules and generally get a work force more in tune with modern American life.

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