Court Hears Arguments on Union Bargaining Restrictions

6/7/11 – After hearing five-and-a-half hours of arguments yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court did not say when, or even if it would decide whether to put the state’s public union bargaining restrictions into effect. The attorney general’s office asked the justices to rule that the law has been in place since March 26th. The department also wants the court to nullify Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s ruling that a legislative committee broke the Open Meeting Law when it passed the union restrictions on March ninth. The justices said they were skeptical about Sumi’s ability to prevent a legislative measure from becoming law. Justice Michael Gableman wondered if a court could prevent a senator from introducing a bill. In his words, “Where does it stop?” Justice Pat Roggensack said she did not believe the Open Meeting Law applies to the state Legislature. But an attorney for Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller called that a “radical” position. And a lawyer for Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca said the justices should clarify that the public has a right to watch its legislators in action – especially in controversial matters. Meanwhile, the conservative Wisconsin Club-for-Growth filed a complaint with the state’s Judicial Commission yesterday, accusing Judge Sumi of not being impartial in her rulings on the union bill. A state justice lawyer said the same thing in a recent legal brief. And five people were arrested at the Capitol during the Supreme Court’s arguments – but none were near the court’s chamber. Four people were arrested for disorderly conduct for trying to ignore metal detectors and police clearance at the main doors. A fifth person was arrested for propping open a locked entrance so others could later enter the building and avoid officers. Two were cited for disorderly conduct, and three for obstructing a roadway.