Wis. Department of Justice
Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen said today that despite an ongoing legal dispute, a circuit court ruling invalidating Wisconsin's collective bargaining law did not apply statewide.
Van Hollen's remarks came in a written statement where he announced his office would not seek a stay from the Supreme Court of a ruling by Dane County Judge Juan Colas that overturned much of the law known as Act 10. Van Hollen said that is because an appeals court ruling this week denying a stay made it "very clear" the lower court ruling did not apply statewide. In an interview, Van Hollen offered his advice to municipalities and school boards grappling with these decisions.
"My advice is the same as it always was with even greater backing now and that would be comply with Act 10 until a court or unless a court of jurisdiction over your region or over your municipality or school district rules otherwise."
But Attorney Lester Pines who brought the lawsuit on behalf of Madison teachers said there was nothing in the Appeals Court ruling to back up Van Hollen's claim.
"They knew very well very well that once a law is declared unconstitutional it's unconstitutional."
Pines said that because the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission was a party to this lawsuit, the decision affected schools and municipalities statewide. Pines had his own advice for those Commissioners, who are charged with carrying out Act 10 and resolving disputes between government employers and employees.
"If the commissioners of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission try to give their own interpretation to Act 10 that is different than Judge Colas's, they will be back in court on a request to have them held in contempt. And they can take that to the bank."
The appeals court ruling from earlier this week did not address the merits of this lawsuit or rule on it either way. That will be the next step in the process.