Opinion Brief

Judge blocks Wisconsin anti-union bill: A bad blow to the right?

A Wisconsin judge issues a restraining order against Gov. Scott Walker's bill limiting collective bargaining rights. How bad is this for the GOP?

Republicans hoping to gut collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin have a fight on their hands. Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi has issued a temporary restraining order against Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill, on the basis that a lawsuit against the controversial bill has a good chance of succeeding. The law's opponents say the tricky legislative maneuver by which state Republicans passed the bill violated Wisconsin law. Judge Sumi is expected to deliver a final ruling after March 28. In the meantime, Walker's bill won't take effect. Does this send Walker back to square one in his fight against public-employee unions? (Watch an MSNBC report about the ruling)

This is a speed bump, not a roadblock: Sumi is likely to find in favor of the Democrats, who contend the Republicans violated the state's open meetings law by failing to give 24 hours' notice of their intentions, says Dan Amira at New York. But even if she does, the Republicans could "presumably just pass the law again while providing proper notice." They still have enough votes, don't they?"Judge blocks Wisconsin anti-union law (but does it matter?)"

But it still helps the Democrats: The GOP may eventually be able to vote again, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. But in the meantime, they're frozen in their tracks. This order "drags out the process once again, keeping it in the headlines." The longer this is in the public's mind, the more likely it is that state Republicans will face recall elections. The delay also "gives time for other legal cases to be brought." "Judge halts implementation of anti-union law in Wisconsin"

Now the GOP can pass an even harsher bill: If this "profoundly weak" ruling even survives an appeal, says William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, the legislature will simply repass the bill. That's good for the GOP, because now they can "include the police unions," which have behaved "dishonorably" during this saga by siding with the protesters against the government. They upped the ante on Walker. Now he can do the same."If need be, re-pass the law and include the police unions"

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