On Wisconsin

Remember the odious union-busting measure in Wisconsin, stripping so many state workers of their collective bargaining rights? The one that was rammed through the legislature, in apparent violation of the state’s open-meetings law?

A state judge ruled this morning that the measure violated the state’s open-meetings law.

This just in from AP: “Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law during the run up to passage. She says that renders the law void.”

Which means that, at least for today, State Representative Peter Barca was right. The State Supreme Court will hold arguments on June 6 to decide whether it takes up the case.

Remember, this legal challenge has to do with process and procedure, not the substantive policies of the proposal. The lawsuit alleges that Republicans were required to take certain legal steps before voting on the measure, and GOP officials chose not to. So far, it appears the challenge is on firm legal ground.

Republicans could, of course, simply try again, this time playing by the rules, but that would open the door to a new round of controversy and protests, which the GOP majority probably would like to avoid.

As long as we’re on the subject, there was also far less encouraging news out of the Badger State yesterday.

The Republican governor of Wisconsin signed a bill on Wednesday that will require voters in the state to show photo identification when they go to the polls.

The measure, which Democrats characterize as a voter suppression effort but Republicans defend as a protection against fraud at the polls, will take partial effect just as nine state senators — including six of Governor Scott Walker’s Republican allies — face recall challenges in mid-July.

That last part is of particular significance. Not only will the voter-ID law disproportionately affect young voters, African Americans, and low-income seniors, giving Republicans an edge in the future by blocking traditional Democratic voters from participating in the process, but the new measure will also give Republicans an immediate edge in this year’s recall elections.

Indeed, GOP officials rushed it through the legislature quickly for precisely this reason, changing the rules in their favor — and addressing a voter-fraud problem that doesn’t exist — in the hopes that they can rig the game and save their skins.