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Judge strikes down Wisconsin union-rights law

In a blow to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and state Republicans, a state judge today struck down Wisconsin’s controversial law stripping public employees of most collective-bargaining rights.

The 33-page decision by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi -- appointed by former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson -- ruled that passage of the measure broke the state's open meetings law when the GOP-controlled legislature quickly passed the provisions on March 9.

In her written opinion, the judge said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne showed "clear and convincing evidence" that Republicans violated the open meeting law and left her no choice but to "void the legislative actions flowing from those violations."

The Wisconsin Democratic Party celebrated the ruling. "Today, Wisconsin was given further proof, from a judge appointed by Tommy Thompson, that Scott Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers treated the rule of law with contempt in their illegal and divisive overreach. The decision should be looked at as an opportunity to work together to find commonsense solutions to grow our economy and get our fiscal house in order - not to tear our state apart, as Walker and his lockstep Legislature have chosen to do."

But this isn’t the final decision. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already scheduled arguments on the case for June 6.

What’s more, there is no immediate effect of today’s ruling. The same judge has previously blocked the implementation of the law, so it has never taken effect.

In addition, the trial judge said that the legislature could fix it all by giving new, adequate notice of a meeting -- and then pass the law again.

While Gov. Walker's office and the Republican Party of Wisconsin had no comment in the immediate aftermath of the ruling, state republican lawmakers have said previously they would attempt to pass the collective bargaining measures with the 2011-13 budget if the current legislation were voided.