No surprise: Wisconsin judge expands TRO to block further implementation of collective bargaining law

Remember how the state’s Legislative Reference Bureau published the law on Friday, arguing that because the judge had only mentioned the Secretary of State in her TRO and not the Bureau that it technically wasn’t barred from acting?

Well, everyone’s barred now.

“Further implementation of the act is enjoined,” said Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi.

Sumi noted her original restraining order issued earlier this month was clear in saying that the state should not proceed with implementing the law. The Walker administration did so after the bill was published Friday by a state agency not included in Sumi’s earlier temporary restraining order.

“Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of Act 10 was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear,” she said.

But minutes later, outside the court room, Assistant Attorney General Steven Means said the legislation “absolutely” is still in effect.

The judge conspicuously didn’t rule on whether the publication of the law on Friday by the LRB was valid or invalid under the original TRO. She’s going to take more testimony on that issue later this week. If she rules that it was invalid, today’s actions by the state to collect higher contributions from public employees’ paychecks towards pension and benefits will presumably have to be undone. If she rules that it was valid because she screwed up in the original TRO, then the law is in effect and the TRO enjoining publication will become moot. At that point, the court would proceed to the underlying question of whether Republicans violated the state’s Open Meetings Law by failing to give enough advance notice before it called the conference committee that led to the CB bill being passed. Got all that? If you can spare five minutes, I recommend following the link up top and reading the Journal-Sentinel story in full. The legal thicket that’s already sprouted around the new CB law is mind-numbing, and the partisan politics at play are so intense that the court’s appointed independent counsel for the Democratic secretary of state because he and the Republican attorney general are at odds. The grand point, in case you’re missing it, is that next week’s state supreme court election is very, very important, and given the amount of energy on the left right now, we should be very uneasy about our chances.