The state Supreme Court today threw out a Dane County judge’s ruling invalidating the collective bargaining law, according to online court records.
The decision had not yet been posted at the court’s site by late this afternoon. But a posting at the court’s site for the appeal described an order in which Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi’s orders in the case are vacated and declared void.
The brief description on the court site said the court concluded the Legislature did not violate a provision in the Wisconsin Constitution that the doors of each house shall be open except when public welfare requires secrecy. During oral arguments last week, there were a series of questions about public access to a conference committee meeting in which lawmakers took up the legislation. That meeting was the basis of the open meetings violation Sumi found in invalidating the law.
You can read the ruling here.
In it, you find the justices ruled 7–0
that Sumi over-stepped her bounds when it came to the separation of powers on agreeing to take the case, and 4–3 on the violation of the open meetings law; i.e. Sumi’s ruling.
UPDATE: From the ruling:
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that we have concluded that in enacting the Act, the legislature did not employ a process that violated Article IV, Section 10 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which provides in relevant part: “The doors of each house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall require secrecy.” The doors of the senate and assembly were kept open to the press and members of the public during the enactment of the Act. The doors of the senate parlor, where the joint committee on conference met, were open to the press and members of the public. WisconsinEye broadcast the proceedings live. Access was not denied. There is no constitutional requirement that the legislature provide access to as many members of the public as wish to attend meetings of the legislature or meetings of legislative committees.
I had a couple of questions myself about what is “an open meeting” in the Internet age. Glad to see the Justices shared them.
UPDATE II: On the Open Meetings Law Violation Claim:
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. See Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d at 361. As the court has explained when legislation was challenged based on allegations that the legislature did not follow the relevant procedural statutes, “this court will not determine whether internal operating rules or procedural statutes have been complied with by the legislature in the course of its enactments.” Id. at 364. “[W]e will not intermeddle in what we view, in the absence of constitutional directives to the contrary, to be purely legislative concerns.”
I haven’t had a chance to read the Abrahamson / Bradley / Crooks decent, but I’ve seen on Twitter that the Chief Justice doesn’t hesitate to take a swipe at Justice Prosser.
If true, grow up ma’am.
Also, expect to see calls of this as a partisan court, and for Wisconsin to stop electing its Supreme Court justices.
UPDATE III: On Doug LaFollette publishing:
¶10 Article IV, Section 17 of the Wisconsin Constitution vests the legislature with the constitutional power to “provide by law” for publication. The legislature has set the requirements for publication. However, the Secretary of State has not yet fulfilled his statutory duty to publish a notice of publication of the Act in the official state newspaper, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 14.38(10)©. Due to the vacation of the circuit court’s orders, there remain no impediments to the Secretary of State fulfilling his obligations under § 14.38(10)©.
Get at it Doug.