MADISON, Wis (Reuters) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tuesday said a controversial measure that curbs the collective bargaining rights of public workers can go into effect.
The high court overturned a lower court, which had ruled Republican lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings law when they passed the measure in March.
The law, which eliminates most collective bargaining rights for public workers and requires them to pay more for pensions and health coverage, prompted a national debate over unions.
It was passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker in March despite the largest public protests in Madison since the Vietnam War.
In May, a circuit court judge hearing one of several challenges against the measure voided it, siding with opponents who argued Republican lawmakers had violated Wisconsin’s strict open meetings law.
But in its ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said the circuit court judge had overstepped her authority and violated the separation of powers in the state constitution.
The court said “one of the courts that we are charged with overseeing has usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature ... exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers ... and erred in the enjoining the publication and further implementation of the Act.”
Reporting by Jeff Mayers; Writing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Peter Bohan